Fourteen days after Fort Worth’s Panthers won their first league championship (see Part 1), Fort Worth got its second sports title of 1895.
And this sports champion was barely taller than a Louisville Slugger.
On October 5 in Evansville, Indiana, Charles Richard McAdams Jr. set a world record in bicycling, traveling a quarter-mile track in fifty-seven seconds. He took the title from Guy Neil of Evansville before a crowd of five thousand.
McAdams was four years and five months old.
And weighed thirty-eight pounds.
Proud papa Charles Sr. telegraphed back home to the Fort Worth Gazette:
“Evansville, Ind., Oct. 5, 1895.—Gazette, Fort Worth: Charley won the race, making one quarter mile in fifty-seven seconds flat. Attendance five thousand. He is now champion four-year-old cyclist of the world. C. R. McAdams.”
The citizens of Evansville presented Master Charles with a gold medal attesting to his title.
Master Charles had taken the title from Master Guy Neil, age five. Master Guy had challenged Master Charles to a race to determine the world champion bicyclist for ages five and under. The McAdamses had lived in Evansville previously. Charles Jr. had been born there on May 1, 1891.
In 1895 the McAdamses—Charles Sr., wife Emma, and son Charles Jr.—lived on Burnett Street downtown. Charles Sr. was a traveling salesman for a stove foundry, possibly the Stove Foundry that gave Stove Foundry Road its name.
Charles Jr., the Gazette reported, had his own trainer: C. W. Murray, a bicycle shop owner who lived in Glenwood. Charles had been riding a bicycle only a few months when he won the world record. His bicycle weighed twelve pounds. Its carrying case, the Gazette reported, was of “the most splendid workmanship.”
After the championship race in Evansville, the Gazette had reported in September, Master Charles was scheduled to perform exhibitions in “a number of Northern cities” and in the autumn would race against “little Miss Trieller” of Dallas at the state fair. Miss Trieller probably was the daughter of Dallas bicyclist and bicycle shop owner John Trieller.
Master Charles after his triumph at Evansville trained at the Ferry Fountain track in Louisville, Kentucky. By then he was riding a custom-made nickel-plated Rambler (by the future automaker) bicycle that weighed twenty-three pounds and had sixteen-inch wheels. Charles Sr. issued a challenge to all cyclists in his son’s age range.
Fast-forward to May 1, 1896. In Fort Worth Master Charles lowered his record time for the quarter-mile to forty-eight seconds.
Master Charles turned five on the day he broke his own record. (Photo from Donna Humphrey Donnell.)
One week later the Dallas Morning News announced that Master Charles, “champion juvenile wheelman of the world,” would race “Baby” Bliss, who weighed 502 pounds. (By May 8, 1896 Master Charles was five years old, not “4 years and 5 months.”)
It would not be the first time Leonard (“Baby”) Bliss of Illinois had raced a person a fraction of his weight.
In July 1896 Charles Sr. announced that he planned to open a cycle park in Dallas to give his son a home track. The park was located near Fair Park. In addition to hosting bicycle races, the park featured moving pictures, wrestling matches, football games, and other sports, and an open-air theater upon whose boards trod the likes of Sarah Bernhardt.
Charles Sr. also issued for his son a challenge to boys under the age of six.
In April 1897 Master Charles outraced a man and set a record time of fifty-four seconds for five-year-olds.
In June 1897 Charles McAdams Jr. covered the quarter-mile track at his father’s Cycle Park in fifty-seven seconds—a bit slow for the world champion, but by then he was a wizened six years old.
The McAdamses had moved to Dallas soon after Charles Sr. built the Cycle Park in 1896.
Charles Jr. grew up and fell out of the news. He later dealt in real estate.
Charles Jr. died in 1972. He had lived most of his life in Dallas.
Charles Richard McAdams Jr., who at the age of four had brought Fort Worth its second sports title of 1895, is buried in Grove Hill Cemetery in Dallas. (Photo from Find A Grave.)
(Thanks to Fort Worth historian Donna Humphrey Donnell for the tip.)