Some think throwing a baseball uncommonly fast, or making it dart to and fro, or dive sharply, is an art.
Some think hitting said baseball is an art.
Most would agree, however, that art is, well, art.
Terry Maddox is one person who can draw a correlation.
The former Medford High standout excelled at baseball at a very early age and on through college, where, at the University of Oregon, he is one of only six first-team All-Americans in program history.
The art world didn’t catch his fancy for another couple decades, but when it did, he became a star in that, as well.
Maddox took up pencil drawing at age 42, earned national acclaim and continued the craft for 35 years.
“People like the stuff, I’ll say that,” said Maddox. “It really was a lot of fun.”
Maddox, 83, a former coach and teacher at Springfield High, has remained in the Eugene area for his adult life.
This fall, he returned to Medford for his 65th class reunion. The 1952 graduate is a grandson of August D. Singler, the Jackson County sheriff who perished in 1913 in the line of duty.
Also this fall, Maddox was inducted into the Springfield High Hall of Fame. He coached the Millers for 12 years and served as president of the state baseball coaches association. He taught PE, math and science at the school for 30 years.
He had lots going on, and moonlighting as an artist brought tranquility.
“That was just pure stress relief,” said Maddox.
“When I was a little kid, I always thought when I got old, I would paint,” he said.
He didn’t paint until he began watercolor-tinting his drawings for added dimension. But with pencil in hand, he’s drawn a variety of subjects, many with outdoor themes.
“I caught on immediately,” said Maddox.
His work is so detailed, some prints appear to be photos. Maddox figures he did more than 400 drawings before retiring a few years ago.
He and a partner, former Springfield track coach Ron Dove, traveled to art shows throughout the region and beyond. Between them, said Maddox, they did some 1,500 events over the 3½ decades. At the final one, Dove brought home $7,000 in sales, said Maddox.
Maddox twice was a finalist in the National Parks “Arts for the Parks” competition. He won best of show at numerous exhibits over the years.
Maddox also drew individuals. In 1980, for instance, he sketched 20 Olympians from photos.
He also drew Phil Knight, the Nike co-founder and Oregon alum, and was surprised one day when Knight showed up at his home and bought some of his work.
As it turns out, Maddox and Knight had a mutual friend in Bill Bowerman, the former Medford High athlete and coach who would go on to guide the Ducks’ vaunted track and field program and join Knight in starting Nike.
Perhaps owing to their ties to Medford, Bowerman had an influence on Maddox almost as soon as the baseball prodigy showed up on the Eugene campus in the early 1950s.
Bowerman became Maddox’s advisor and saw to it that the determined young man received a scholarship.
“He knew I was always working while playing,” said Maddox.
As a sophomore, Maddox attended classes, played baseball and worked full time at a service station. He sometimes slept on the floor in the English building, he said, and his fraternity brothers wondered how he managed to get good grades.
“After 8 o’clock, there wasn’t much business at the station,” he said, so he turned it into study time.
A fine student, Maddox went on to earn a master’s in geology.
It was also as a sophomore, in 1955, that Maddox emerged as the Ducks’ best pitcher.
“I was their only pitcher who could get people out,” he said. “I threw real hard, harder than any guy we played against.”
Maddox pitched Oregon to the Pacific Coast Conference Northern Division title in 1955. He led the division with a 7-1 record and 2.80 ERA. His .875 winning percentage and six complete games still rank in the top 10 in school history.
However, during a late-season series against Oregon State, he felt something pop in his shoulder in a relief appearance. He finished the inning, and it was the last time he pitched.
Maddox moved to the outfield and continued to shine. He had a career batting average of .321, scoring 57 runs and driving in 50.
Oregon won the North again in 1957.
A large photo of Maddox is displayed at PK Park, the Ducks’ stadium, and he was inducted into the school’s sports Hall of Fame in 2006.
Maddox had been on the radar of professional scouts since his high school days. His family had a 1,600-acre farm on Poorman’s Creek Road outside of Jacksonville, and he enrolled at Jacksonville High as a ninth-grader. But he lasted only a week there before Medford High baseball coach Alex McDonald wooed him over — even though Maddox had to make the long journey on his bike and stay with relatives during the week.
Maddox had played baseball in Medford since the fifth grade and attended McDonald’s camps.
“He immediately recognized I could throw and hit,” said Maddox.
Maddox played five years of American Legion ball in Medford and, as a junior, was on the Cheney Studs’ talented semipro team, one of only two high school kids in the league.
“That’s where I saw my first slider,” he laughed, “and I couldn’t figure out what the hell it was.”
“It was definitely not a high school league,” he added.
He was a hardened teenager by the time he pitched Medford into the state tournament as a senior. His fastball kept hitters loose, his changeup confounded them.
“I didn’t hit guys, but I moved them back,” he said. “I didn’t have to do it very often.”
Medford, then nicknamed the Tigers, was third in the state during Maddox’s junior year and returned to the eight-team tournament the following year, 1952. Medford was scheduled to play upstart Junction City, a decided underdog, but the OSAA changed the bracket, he said, and allowed host Albany to play Junction City, rather than its scheduled foe, The Dalles.
Medford, in turn, got The Dalles, which had a bonus-baby pitcher of its own.
“The OSAA really pulled a dirty trick on us,” said Maddox. “We were the top two teams. They didn’t want Albany to be eliminated.”
Medford lost, 2-1, to The Dalles and was eliminated, while Albany went on to win the championship over Roosevelt.
Maddox was contacted by a host of major league teams. The Yankees took him and his mother to dinner and wanted to send him to the Texas League. The Dodgers did the same. The Red Sox and Athletics came calling, and others.
“All of them,” said Maddox.
He actually worked out in spring training with the Dodgers before enrolling at Oregon. One scout, he said, compared him favorably to Carl Furillo, an outfielder for the team who had one of the strongest arms in the game.
But it was on to Oregon. Upon graduation, Maddox joined the Army. He kept his game sharp in the service, and when he got out, he played minor-league ball.
He signed with Salem in the Northwest League, which was a mistake, he said. When big-league teams tried to buy his contract, Salem refused to sell. The team eventually let him go, and he joined Eugene’s NWL team.
Maddox’s shot at the majors didn’t come and, with a wife and family to support, he took up what would become a distinguished career in education.
— Reach sports editor Tim Trower at 541-776-4479 or email@example.com