Since You Asked:

I know that North Medford's mascot is the Black Tornado, and it is the only secondary school in the nation to have that. My question is, "Where did that come from?" I don't think this area is noted for tornados.

— Jack S., Medford

Well, Jack, we've answered this one before, but we oldsters here at the Since You Asked Rocking Chair Farm never tire of telling the tale.

Most folks agree that the first use of the reference was likely in 1928, when Medford High School's football team manhandled Benson Tech, 39-0, in the state championship game. After watching the game, Oregonian sports editor L.H. Gregory wrote: "From out of the South, Medford swept over the field like a black tornado."

The team's actual name in those days was the Tigers, although some reports referred to the team as the Pear Pickers, in recognition of the Rogue Valley's famous fruit.

The Black Tornado name bounced around for years, with Mail Tribune "Ye Smudge Pot" columnist Arthur Perry and Bill Hulen, MT sports editor from 1938 to 1944, often using the moniker.

Bill Singler, who is the grandfather of local basketball prodigies Kyle and E.J. (and quite an athlete himself back in the day), remembers when he was in high school in the mid-'40s, Medford used the Black Tornado name in football and Tigers in basketball.

The Black Tornado title became official in 1953, when the student body voted it in by an overwhelming margin. When Medford divided into North and South, the nickname stayed with North Medford, whose building held the high school before the split.

Just plumb wore us out recollectin' all that. Time for a nap.

Send questions to "Since You Asked," Mail Tribune Newsroom, P.O. Box 1108, Medford, OR 97501; by fax to 541-776-4376; or by e-mail to We're sorry, but the volume of questions received prevents us from answering all of them.

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