As It Was: Medford turned out for contest between the ‘Fats’ and the ‘Leans’

    Photo courtesy of Southern Oregon Historical Society, image No. 8605This motley crew is not the cast from some strange comic opera that they appear to be - It's the baseball team from the Medford Elks Lodge out to have some fun.

    In June of 1911, the city of Medford held a comically named and well-advertised baseball game. For weeks the Medford Sun and Medford Mail Tribune promoted the game between the “Fats” and the “Leans.” One newspaper declared, “If you’re fat you’ll get lean and if you’re lean you’ll get your money’s worth.”

    The two teams hailed from the city and countryside. The Fats, of course, were a collection of business men and doctors from Medford.

    The Leans came from the farms and mines surrounding Medford at the time. As pre-game excitement built, Medford’s mayor declared that any citizen older than 10 found not attending the game would be arrested and fined four-bits on the spot.

    On game day, stores throughout the city closed promptly at 4 o’clock and people rushed to the ball grounds. Newspaper accounts of admission prices vary, but one reported it was 50 cents for men, 25 cents for ladies and free for children under 12, with proceeds directed to the city band and the restoration of a city park.

    The Fats won, but more importantly, the people of Medford enjoyed an amusing, if mandatory, afternoon of farcical baseball.

    Sources: “Fats Versus Leans.” Southern Oregon History, Revised, transcript of “The Day We Celebrate.” Medford Mail Tribune, 8 June 1911. Web. 21 Feb. 2014. As It Was is a co-production of Jefferson Public Radio and the Southern Oregon Historical Society. As It Was stories are broadcast weekdays on Jefferson Public Radio and are available online at

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