The brother of Hugh Baxter, 4 time US champion in the pole vault (1883-1886), Irv Baxter finished equal second in the 1897 IC4A high jump while representing Trinity College and then won the title in 1899 while a student at Penn. He also won the AAU high jump and pole vault that year.
The American team for the Paris Olympics stopped off for the British AAA Championships and Baxter took the high jump at 6-2 (1.88). At the Paris Games he jumped marginally higher and won the Olympic gold medal at 6-2½ (1.89). Later the same day, he won the pole vault in somewhat bizarre circumstances. Daniel Horton and Bascom Johnson, who had both beaten Baxter at the British meet, were missing, as was Charles Dvorak, who would become Olympic champion in 1904. J
ohnson and Dvorak had left the grounds on being told that the pole vault had been postponed, and Horton declined to compete on sabbatical grounds. Notwithstanding the information given to Johnson and Dvorak, the event was held as scheduled and Baxter, who was still at the field after his high jump victory, registered as a last-minute entry and won his second Olympic title.
The following day he finished second to Ray Ewry in all three standing jumps, thus winning a total of five Olympic medals in the space of two days. In 1901, Baxter returned to England where he successfully defended his British high jump title but, as at the Olympics, he was involved in drama surrounding the pole vault. Baxter had arrived at the Championships without a pole and as the only other competitor refused to lend him his, Baxter uprooted a flagpole, cleared the same height as his rival, and shared the British championship.
Baxter was admitted to the New York State Bar in 1901 and in 1903 he was chosen as a special city judge on the Democratic ticket. Apart from a break during World War I, he continued in private law practice until 1921, when he was appointed Commissioner of the Northern District of New York. In 1925 he resigned and returned to private practice.
Personal Bests: HJ – 6-3½ (1.918) (1900); PV – 3.35 (1900).