NOTE: The 17th in a series of tracking down lost or forgotten sports venues, trophies and artifacts in the Old Pueblo.
There was a time when local sporting goods stores where part of the norm in the Old Pueblo but the days of Woody’s, Medina’s, Jack Ellis, Yellow Front, Dave LeCompte and Baum’s are long gone. There are still some smaller places that specialize in soccer, golf and tennis gear but one needs to turn to the larger national retailers like DICK’s Sporting Good and Big 5 Sporting Goods if they want immediate purchases, if available.
The days of walking into Baum’s and pulling two dozen blank shirts out of a box and have the guy behind the counter hot press names and numbers on them that moment for a club team are long gone. Good luck with Amazon and all the local shops will take days if not weeks to get your order done.
K.L. Hart Store was the first sporting goods store in Tucson and it was located at 17 E. Congress in the 1880s. The Nook restaurant occupies that address now. The first known store to sell football pads was in 1908 at the Reid Sporting Goods Co., located on 44 N. Stone. Speaking of football pads, the University of Arizona used to purchase pads from Baum’s before jerseys and equipment became a big national business. Even TUSD bought equipment there until state bidding laws took over.
Baum’s? Amazingly, it all started in 1917 when Harold Adamson moved to Clarkdale, Arizona from Cincinnati and then to Tucson in 1920. His friend, J. Clayton Baum, followed him to Arizona and the two opened up the first Baum and Adamson Tire Company in 1923 at 92 N. Stone Ave, which would become The Pioneer Hotel Building a few years later.
With pending building on the original site, the two moved to what was known as, “The Point,” the southeast corner of Stone and Toole where the courtyard where the Country Recorder’s and Justice Courts now stand. The two men were instrumental in moving the rail yard out of the Toole area to where it is now situated along the Barraza Parkway and they pushed for (and got) the tunnels under the railroad tracks that we all use now.
The Baum and Adamson franchise grew over the years until it was sold to B.F. Goodrich in 1968. Baum died in 1971 and Adamson died in 1974. Baum’s son, James R. Baum, retained the president position of Baum and Adamson and he passed away in 1980 at the age of 52. Fred Baum, the grandson of Clayton and the son of James, took over in 1980 and the last Baum and Adamson retail tire center was sold in 1986.
By then, Fred Baum had already started a new business in February of 1984, “Baum’s Sporting Goods,” selling group sales out of a building located at 1927 E. 19th St. A retail store opened up in April of that year in a former Circle K store located at 32 N. Campbell. It was here University of Arizona club, intramural, Greek and sports teams could walk in to get clothing and equipment that day.
The new store opened up at 2845 E. Speedway in 1993 and another store opened up at 6446 N. Oracle in 2002. The Oracle location was moved to a smaller lot in 2010 in the same strip mall next to Dickman’s Meat & Deli. This Baum’s moved across the street to 6429 N. Oracle in 2017.
Fred Baum passed away in January 11, 2019 at the age of 61 and the Baum’s Sporting Goods franchise closed down on March 30, 2019.
From a tire shop in 1923 to a sporting goods franchise that ended in 2019, Baum’s truly is an important part of our history.
Named one of “Arizona’s Heart & Sol” by KOLD and Casino del Sol, Andy Morales was recognized by the AIA as the top high school reporter in 2014, he was awarded the Ray McNally Award in 2017 and a 2019 AZ Education News recognition. He was a youth, high school and college coach for over 30 years. He was the first in Arizona to write about high school beach volleyball and high school girls wrestling and his unique perspective can only be found here and on AZPreps365.com. Andy is a Southern Arizona voting member of the Ed Doherty Award, recognizing the top football player in Arizona, and he was named a Local Hero by the Tucson Weekly for 2016. Andy was named an Honorary Flowing Wells Caballero in 2019, became a member of the Sunnyside Los Mezquites Cross Country Hall of Fame in 2021 and he was a member of the Amphi COVID-19 Blue Ribbon Committee. He earned a Distinguished Service Award from Amphitheater and he was recognized by City Councilman Richard Fimbres. Contact Andy Morales at firstname.lastname@example.org