Inducted November 2, 1979
Jack Bell, whose name is synonymous with the early days of long distance running in Newfoundland – a discipline which he was to dominate both locally and abroad for the period extending from 1910 to 1924 – was born at St. John’s in 1893. He was educated at St. Patrick’s Hall School and while attending that institution became fascinated with long distance running. In 1910 his running career began. As a youth competing against what invariably was a field of seasoned veterans he initially had limited success.
From the very onset of his running career he became the idol of the crowd. His fans were to remain loyal to him over the years. Bell repaid that loyalty with a record of outstanding accomplishment as a distance runner. He justified his fans’ faith in him by dominating long distance running in the early 1920’s. He was Newfoundland’s reigning modified marathon champion in 1920 and 1921 recording the first wins on the Evening Telegram trophy in both years. The 1920’s were the golden age of sport in Newfoundland and long distance running was the glamor event at the many Wednesday afternoon sports day events held on St. George’s field. A very unassuming and modest athlete, he was extraordinarily popular. Public esteem followed him all through his life. Jack Bell was the first Newfoundland athlete to represent Newfoundland abroad. He was a polished performer.
It is amazing to discover that while competing as a distance runner Bell simultaneously engaged in and distinguished himself at other sports. In 1920 he was a member of the victorious B.I.S. football team which captured the League championship that year. Throughout the early 1920’s as well he, each year, rowed in the annual Regatta on Quidi Vidi as a member of an amateur crew and also as a crew member representing the Railway. His versatility as an athlete seems to have known no bounds for in 1926 we find that he was a member of the Terra Novas hockey team which captured the Boyle trophy and League championship that year. Right up to the time of his early passing Jack Bell was involved with sport. In his later years he coached the C.L.B. track team to an impressive string of successes. Newfoundland has seen very few athletes as accomplished and as likeable as Jack Bell.