One of the strong threads on this blog has been looking up the amateur and early pro careers of some of the great baseball players, hopefully not just to answer some trivia questions but to shed some light on who the players were and how they became great. Lou Gehrig appeared in the New York Times on Nov. 3, 1920, when the paper headlined an article: “Commerce Defeats Morris High, 16-7” The high school had won the Manhattan-Bronx public school football title the previous day.
The Times said, “Bunny Bunora, Commerce captain, and Lou Gehrig, ‘the Babe Ruth of the school,’ contributed the plays which brought Commerce victory. These two players, figuring in practically every action on the field, carried the brunt of the Commerce attack and led their team in defensive work.”
See the box score for this game, played when Gehrig was 17:
That is, Gehrig, playing at left halfback, ran for a touchdown and kicked a field goal. On April 28, 1923, the Times ran this headline of an inter-city baseball game:
On June 12, 1923, the Times wrote that Gehrig, a “Columbia pitcher, first baseman and outfielder, called by Coach Carris of Pennsylvania and other critics the ‘best college player since George Sisler,'” had signed a contract with the Yankees. The paper added:
It took only until June 15, 1923 for Gehrig to make his MLB debut in a Yankees win, 10-0, over the Browns. The Times: “Miller Huggins sent Lou Gehrig, the Columbia University slugger, to first base in the ninth, and Lou conducted himself in faultless fashion. He had little to do, but did it well and seemed to know something about playing first base. His only chance was an easy grounder by Tobin which Lou snapped up and then stepped on first base for the final putout of the game.”
Wally Pipp, starting at first, went 2-4 with a double. Gehrig was just shy of 20 in mid-June 1923. This post, by the way, is a bookend for a post on this blog from a while ago, covering Gehrig’s famous 1939 farewell speech.