Fresno Relays History
April 1, 2003
World Record. These two words and the Bob Mathias Fresno Relays have become synonymous for well over a half decade. In what has become an annual rite of spring in the San Joaquin Valley, the West's most visible meet has long attacked some of the world's finest athletes onto the hallowed ground at Ratcliffe Stadium until continuing its success at Warmerdam Field. Along with its predecessor, the West Coast Relays, the Bob Mathias Fresno Relays has had 40 world records broken or tied in the 76-year history of the meet. The greatest athletes of the valley - Bob Mathias, Dutch Warmerdam, Rafer Johnson, Tommie Smith and Lee Evans - began competing in high school at the West Coast Relays.
The meet has also seen the spawning of some top stars outside of track and field circles. Baseball great Jackie Robinson, football stars O.J. Simpson, Ollie Matson, Henry Ellard, Willie Gault and Ron Brown and basketball's Bill Russell received some of their first claims to fame at Ratcliffe Stadium.
But the Bob Mathias Fresno Relays is not just for the world class athlete. Since its inception in 1927, the meet has included grammar school, high school and junior college events, tying the valley and the local community into one of the most successful track and field meets in the nation. A fan can watch and cheer for the local athlete, and at the same time view some of the finest athletes the world has seen. This diversity is what makes the meet so unique, and why the tradition has carried on and grown for so many years.