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Lou Gehrig, Angler (Part 1)

Lou Gehrig had three loves—his mother Christina (supplanted by wife Eleanor in 1933), baseball and fishing. I will start posting a series on Lou’s fishing adventures in the 1930s, one aspect of his life that has been greatly overlooked by biographers.

During spring training in St. Petersburg during 1932, more than a dozen Yankees took advantage of their free time to jump into rowboats and fish in the channels, lagoons and bays near their hotel, often until sundown. Babe Ruth, befitting his salary, went out with guides in more elegant craft. Boats came back loaded with sheepshead, redfish, drum and bluefish that were broiled for evening meals. One observer noted, “The Yankees like the feel of a fish’s strike second only to the sound of base hits from their own bats.”

Back in New York, the Yankee anglers participated in a fishing party on May 5. They acted like first-timers. George Pipgras showed up with a brand-new rod, but it snapped in half before he landed his first flounder. Undeterred, he fished the entire day with the butt end and a foot-long stub of his rod, landing 48 flounders, more than any of his companions. Lou came up one fish short, partly because he threw his rod into the Great South Bay. After 30 minutes of dragging the anchor back and forth, his rod emerged with a flounder and an eel that had taken the bait while it lay on the bottom. Babe Ruth, always a serious competitor, landed more than 40 fish, again finishing behind Gehrig in the fish total. Babe might out-hit Lou in homers, but Gehrig almost always could out-fish the Bambino.

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