Thursday, November 29, 2018 at 12:00pm to 1:00pm
Linderman Library, Room 200, Scheler Humanities Forum
30 Library Dr., Bethlehem, PA 18015
Geoff Gehman ’89 M.A.—journalist, book author, former pitcher—will discuss “Shoeless Joe, the Babe & the Steel: The Highly Unlikely Bethlehem Steel League” at noon Nov. 29 in Room 200 of Linderman Library.
The Steel League consisted of teams at six northeastern plants that employed Shoeless Joe Jackson, Babe Ruth and other major leaguers who avoided the World War I draft while entertaining over-worked munitions workers. Ruth played and delivered blueprints for a mill in Lebanon, Pa., weeks after pitching and hitting the Boston Red Sox to their third world championship in five years. Shoeless Joe Jackson, a peerless outfielder for the Chicago White Sox, led the Steel League in hitting while leading a
riveting gang at a shipyard in Wilmington, Del.
Lehigh played a pivotal role in the Steel League. The league was supervised by 1899 graduate Eugene Grace, Bethlehem Steel’s president and a Lehigh shortstop good enough to receive a contract offer from the Boston Braves. The Bethlehem factory team
was managed by Tom Keady, Lehigh’s winningest football coach and composer of a football fight song for Dartmouth, his alma mater. The local squad was led by shortstop Sam Fishburn, Class of 1917, who finished second in Steel League stolen bases behind
Shoeless Joe and who founded a namesake real- estate firm in Bethlehem. His teammates included three of the 160-odd Jews who have played in the majors, most notably Al Schacht, who pitched for the Washington Senators before he became baseball’s first “clown prince.”
Gehman pitched for Lafayette College before writing about arts and sports for The Morning Call. His Call subjects included Bill Gladstone ’51, Baseball Hall of Fame board member, owner of a minor-league baseball team and collector of a trove of rare baseball memorabilia with his wife Millie. His books include “The Kingdom of the Kid: Growing Up in the Long-lost Hamptons” (SUNY Press), which features a chapter on Carl Yastrzemski, the Red Sox Hall of Famer.
The free talk is part of the Lehigh exhibit “Batting Around America’s National Pastime: The Cultural Impact of Baseball,” which continues through Dec. 18 in Linderman Library. More information:
Guided tours of the exhibition will be given before and after the talk, at 11 am and 1 pm.