There have been numerous searches for this post, so I am publishing it, again. Enjoy! Elizabeth
Jimmy Clark seated right with member of the W.A. Bailey Team
Before there were rock stars, television and million dollar contracts, there were the Hose Racers. E.A.B.
Since childhood I have heard family discussions about James Clark’s athletic career. He was an energetic, charismatic personality I am told, who died prematurely. He was not a wealthy man. His legacy was the races he ran and the competitions in which he participated. That said, his claim to fame was his association with the W.A. Bailey hose running team.
Jimmy’s life was never easy. He and his twin sister Mary were born in the Cheapside section of Deerfield, Massachusetts on June 23, 1868 to John Clark and Hannah (Madigan) Connors. Cheapside was a poor, crowded and unhealthy environment to raise a family. The headstones at Old Calvary Cemetery in Greenfield, where countless Irish immigrants are interred, are a testament to the harsh conditions in Cheapside. At the time of his birth, Jimmy’s father was a grinder at John Russell Cutlery. However, not long after, John Russell relocated to Turners Falls and the Clark’s moved to Buckland, where his father found employment at the Lamson & Goodnow cutlery. In 1883 the family relocated to Northampton, where they settled into a home in Bay State Village on the corner of Main (now Riverside Drive) and Norwood Street, a stone’s throw from the infamous Clement Manufactory, which employed Jimmy’s father. On February 26, 1895, Jimmy married Mary Ann Cashman. The marriage did not dampen his athletic endeavors.  Mary Ann was perhaps, one of his strongest advocates.
In the early part of the 20th century, Jimmy was also employed by Clement Manufacturing, where he worked alongside his father. However, when he was not grinding knives, he was a volunteer fireman at the local station, which was located in the bend in the road at the end of Riverside Drive. Undoubtedly, it was through this association that he was introduced to the W.E. Bailey team.
I must admit that until I began researching Jimmy’s career as a runner, I did not have a clue about hose racers and I was hard pressed to find a satisfactory explanation of the sport. However, a 1913 retrospective, which appeared in the Springfield Daily News, named Jimmy as a team leader and provided a brief explanation of the sport: “In hose racing, they use 15 men on a team. They have to draw a reel that weighs 700 pounds or more, including 250 feet of hose. The men run 100 feet, lay 200 feet of hose, break the coupling and put it on the nozzle.”
“Steve Farrell and James Clark were the leaders of the team. They were the only men that wore harness on the team because they would lead the pace and others would follow. The others did not wear a harness because after running 200 yards they would be all in and drop out.”
The venue for hose running and other firemen’s competition were musters. The musters were carnival like festivities, which often included a parade with fireman decked out in full regalia, food and other forms of entertainment.
Increasingly through the 1890’s, musters were a major entertainment venue and firemen who competed were the equivalent of rock stars. Their performances were widely reported by the media, analyzed at the local watering holes and discussed on street corners.
The events were held all over New England and across the United States. Interestingly, fireman contests were the first organized athletic competitions in the United States. The contests were so popular the “Paris organizers invited volunteer and professional fireman’s teams to compete at the loosely structured 1900 International Exposition and Olympic games. The Kansas City, Missouri, firehouse won the world’s professional fireman’s championship cup.”
Though I have been told that Jimmy participated in the Olympics in Paris, I have no evidence to support that report.
However, there is evidence that Jimmy Clark was a well-known and well-respected athlete in his own time. Apart from the many newspapers reports which mention him, a piece that appeared in a local newspaper in 1927, shortly after his death tells the story of Jimmy Clark and W.E. Bailey Hose Runners:
A friend and admirer of the late James Clark told us the following: “One of the greatest all-round athletes that wore a spiked shoe in Northampton passed on with the death of James Clark of Bay State last week.”
Two decades ago his fame as an athlete was known wherever field sports were held, not only in Northampton, but all over New England and other states where he went and competed.
Jimmy Clark, as he was called by his hundreds of friends, was, according to our informant, one of these real sportsmen who were absolutely on the level, his heart was always in his work and he was most loyal to his friends.
An idea of how good an athlete, he was, may be had from his mark of 6 feet three inches, which he made in the high jump in Philadelphia, winning the event in a national meet in which were intended the best men in the country. He was equally good in the broad jump, hop step and jump and the so-called hitch and kick.
His fame here in all these sports was great, but it was as a runner that he captured the popular fancy, and it was as leader of the great bunch that composed the never-to-be-forgotten W.A. Bailey’s world’s champion hose running team that he will be best remembered.
For five years this Northampton running team swept all before them at firemen’s musters wherever they were held. And leading them always was the slender, but sinewy Jimmy Clark. And well he might lead, for he was close to ten seconds for the century everytime he speeded over the 100 yard distance. According to Maurice Landry, who was a close second in all-around sports to Clark, and who also was one of the sprinters on the Bailey team, Clark many times ran the century in 10 seconds. The Bailey running team is holder of the world’s record for 800 feet, which they made at Ware, Mass., and their mark has never been beaten.
It came to pass at field meets, at least in this section, that when Clark and Landry entered the other athletes withdrew to the sidelines and watched the pair from Bay State do their stuff.
The break-up of the Bailey running team was almost tragic when, at a cattle show, the team with such runners as Fred Britten of Fairview, one of the star sprinters of the day, teamed with Clark, and with the then holder of the mile record, Tom Carrol, of Boston, as well as, Maurice Landry, Charlie O’Neil, Tom Keneavy, Billy Chatel, Joe Tichy, and other fine runners, they swept down the course away ahead, in time , of any of the others, one of whom was Bailey’s greatest rival, the John H. Ashe team of Chicopee Falls. But disaster that they had evaded come to them, for before over 15,000 people, the late J.A. Boudway, the fastest man who ever broke a coupling, failed for the first time in the team’s history, to make the hitch and the team that for five long years never met defeat, felt its sting for the first time. How much their heart was in their work was attested when many of them broke down and sobbed.
The team never raced again for various reasons, but to thousands memory will bring back the sinewy boy who so often led them to victory.
James Clark died on August 22, 1927 of double lobar pneumonia.
Two weeks ago I wrote about Cutler's Lung. I wondered if Jimmy suffered from that condition. While, it appears that the team broke up, I will always wonder if his employment at Clement Manufacturing contributed to his death. I have in my possession a copy of the Western Union Telegram addressed to Mary Ann from Robert T. Lee, owner of the plant. It states: "Deepest sympathy to you in the loss of Jim whose friendship I will always cherish." Somehow I think it was just another day for Robert Lee. Elizabeth Banas (great-granddaughter)
 Franklin County, Massachusetts, birth certificate no.45 (1868), James Clark; Town Clerk’s Office, Deerfield. Franklin County, Massachusetts, birth certificate no.46 (1868), Mary Clark; Town Clerk’s Office, Deerfield.
 1880 U.S. census, Franklin County, Massachusetts, population schedule, Buckland, Enumeration District (ED) 244, sheet 44-D, p.32 (penned), dwelling 294, family 363, John Clark household; digital image, Ancestry.com(http://www.ancestry.com : accessed 19 Aug 2011), citing National Archives microfilm publication T9, Roll 533.
 Hampshire County, Massachusetts, Unindexed Property, 307:249, Jeremiah Brown to Hannah Clark, deed, 15 Feb 1883, digital image, Secretary of the Commonwealth-Registry of Deeds, Hampshire District Registry of Deeds(http://www.sec.state.ma.us/sec/rod/rodhamp/hampidx.htm : accessed 21 Aug 2011). The title to the property was in Hannah’s name alone.
 Hampshire County, Massachusetts, marriage certificate unnumbered (1895), Clark-Cashman, City Clerk’s Office, Northampton.
 Unnamed author, “Patsy Corbett Recalls Some Zero Sprinting,” The Springfield Daily News, 25 Feb 1913, Genealogybank.com (http://www.genealogybank.com : accessed 8 Feb 2012), p.8, col.7. para. 6.
 Unnamed author, “Patsy Corbett Recalls Some Zero Sprinting,” p.8., col. 7, para. 7.
 C. Frank Zarnowski, “Working at Play: The Phenomenon of 19th Century Worker-Competition,” Journal of Leisure Research 36 (2 November 2004); online archives, .docstoc (http://www.docstoc.com/docs/79305015/Working-at-Play : accessed 9 Feb 2012), p.13, par 2.
 “Here and There,” undated clipping, 1927, from unidentified newspaper; Clark Family papers, privately held by Elizabeth Banas, [ADDRESS FOR PRIVATE USE,] Belchertown, Massachusetts, 2012. A gift from Andrienne Clark, widow of John Paul Clark, grandson of James Clark.