Whitman County Gazette - Serving Whitman County since 1877

Codger 'Babe' Lyons checks in


October 10, 2019

Babe Lyons

Babe Lyons celebrates his 96th birthday.

Hal (Babe) Lyons, one of the CHS grads who returned here to play in the 1988 Codger Bowl against St. John, checked in with a letter to the Gazette Oct. 2. Lyons, believed to be one of the last Codger Pole players still alive, reported he celebrated his 96th birthday with "vim and vigor" Sept. 9.

Played at Colfax 31 years ago, the Sept. 24 Codger Bowl game was a rematch of the Colfax-St. John game. It brought back players on the two teams from the 1938 county championship game.

The rematch game, which included a parade through Colfax, generated coverage from Spokane television stations and other stations around the state.

The game was initiated by John Crawford, a CHS graduate who later made a career in Hollywood. Crawford was raised in Colfax as Cleve Richardson and later took the Crawford name for his Hollywood career.

Lyons in his letter recounted the TD he made on the last play of the 1988 rematch game. He had been playing quarterback for Colfax, but switched positions with the late John Lothspeich who threw a pass to Lyons at the 50-yard line. Lyons ran it into the end zone for a score. A photo of Lyons after the winning score ran in People Magazine.

Three years after the Codger Bowl, Crawford promoted installation of the Codger Pole on Main Street. A cluster of cedar logs were inverted before they were planted into the ground, the pole features carvings of the Colfax and St. John players who returned for the 50-year rematch. The poles were brought from St. Maries and donated by the Buell Brothers Logging of St. Maries.

Many of the players came back to celebrate the opening of what is now Codger Pole Park.

Lyons resided in Colfax for 17 years as a youth. He enlisted to serve in the war after the attack on Pearl Harbor and eventually was accepted by the Army Air Corps to train and serve as a B-29 pilot. Lyons noted he was among pilots who were scheduled to attack Japan before the bombing of Hiroshima ended the war.

After the war and college at Washington State, Lyons became an investment banker at Othello where he had a role in financing businesses that emerged from the Columbia basin project. He later operated his own investment banking business in Seattle.


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