Mail Tribune

For the past 21 years, the display of photos showing Medford's greatest athletes graced the hallway of JJ North's Grand Buffet restaurant on Medford's Riverside Avenue.
The setting served as the home of Medford's Sports Hall of Fame. Action photos, memorabilia and explanatory write-ups of legendary sports figures glistened through glass trophy cases.
NFL lineman Bill Morgan. Track and field coach Bill Bowerman. Football coach Fred Spiegelberg. Indy 500 driver Art Pollard. High jump innovator and Olympic champion Dick Fosbury. And dozens more.
Nostalgic adults en route to or back from dinner could embark on a journey back in time. Youngsters could gain valuable insight on Medford's stars of yesteryear that they had known little or nothing about.
It was quite a spectacle, but now it's looking for a new home following the closure of JJ North's last month. "There are enough of us around who understand the tradition and significance of Medford sports and who want to keep it alive and well," said Ed Singler, one of 120 members inducted into the local sports hall. "I think a lot of people enjoyed the display at JJ North's, and it's important that we find the hall a new home."
Singler, an all-state athlete at Medford High in the late 1970s who went on to play quarterback at Oregon State, huddled with fellow Medford sports enthusiasts Jeff Barry, Dick Entinger and Kelly Rasmussen last week to discuss the hall's future.
Where will it go? Possible new sites include Rogue Valley Country Club, the Red Lion, the Rogue Valley Manor, the Rogue Regency Inn and the yet-to-be-built restaurant at Centennial Golf Club.
The ad hoc relocation committee also talked about leaving the display where it is, providing another buffet-type restaurant replaces JJ North's.
"We want to find someone who's committed to having it at their business for a long time," said Barry, another former Medford High standout and "Hall" inductee who played professional baseball for 12 years. "We want to get this up and running again as soon as possible."
Barry and Singler said they would like to see the hall's new home also be the place where the Medford Linebackers &

8212; the city's high school sports booster club &

8212; holds its weekly luncheons during the football season. Such an arrangement was in place at JJ North's ever since the Medford Sports Hall of Fame was created in 1985 in conjunction with Medford's centennial celebration.
"Ideally, the hall would be in the same place as the linebacker meetings, but if that isn't feasible, it needs to be in a visible place where a lot of people can enjoy it," Singler said.
The linebackers' first four meetings this fall will be held outdoors at Bear Creek Park.
The hall's supporters agree that the temporary loss of a home base is unfortunate, but it also serves as a wake-up call. The hall's original committee planned to induct a handful of members every five years, but since 20 members were added to the 100 charter inductees in 1990, the hall has been dormant.
"Maybe now we can light a fire under the Medford Linebackers and get this thing up and going and keep it going," Singler said. "A lot of people have enjoyed the Medford Sports Hall of Fame in the past, but I'm sure there are people out there who have never heard of it."
Reach reporter Don Hunt at 776-4469, or e-mail .