This article was written by Ralph Berger
Girard College, a private college preparatory boarding school in Philadelphia founded in 1848 for the purpose of educating fatherless boys, between the late 1800s and 1920 produced thirteen graduates who played in the major leagues. Those thirteen stood as a record for some time as the most produced by any high school in the nation, an astonishing fact considering the small size of the school. Some of the more prominent players to come from Girard-whose “core values are respect, responsibility, integrity, self-discipline and compassion”-were Harry Davis, Moose McCormick, and Jocko Milligan. Tenth of the Girard graduates to reach the majors was John Lush.
John Charles Lush was in born Williamsport, Pennsylvania, on October 8, 1885. His father, a German immigrant, was a shipper of lumber. His mother, Elizabeth, was born in Ireland. The family lived at 773 East Third Street. Lush’s father died of typhoid fever when John was almost four years old, making the boy eligible for admission to Girard. John entered the school in May of 1895.
Lush was a good student and well behaved, adapting well to the disciplined life at Girard. He maintained an 8.58 scholastic average and a conduct average of 8.89 out of a possible ten. He took to sports and excelled in soccer, swimming and baseball. A versatile player on the diamond, he pitched and played the outfield. Baseball became his first love, understandably so because at that time in Philadelphia baseball was a hotbed of burgeoning semi-professional and professional teams. A left-handed pitcher on the Girard nine, Lush developed an overhand curveball that baffled hitters. The team was one of Girard’s best ever, going 14-2. Lush contributed mightily to the team’s success. In addition to his pitching, he wound up the 1902 season with 22 doubles, 3 triples, 2 homers and 42 runs batted in.
Lush graduated from Girard College in 1903 at the age of seventeen. That same year he was playing for Williamsport in the Tri-State League. In 1904, the youngest player in the major leagues, he was playing first base with the Phillies and batted a respectable .276, in 106 games. Lush also pitched but lost all of his six starts. According to Bill James, Lush is the youngest regular player of the twentieth century. Tongue in cheek, James also awarded Lush the Clint Hartung trophy for his pitching and infield and outfield endeavors.
According to an account in the Williamsport Sun dated February 27, 1905, Lush signed with the Williamsport team of the Tri-State League, spurning an offer from the Phillies. Lush claimed he waited many days for a reply to the letter he had sent to Phillies President Shetline and receiving no reply went ahead and signed with his hometown Williamsport team. However, he returned to the Phillies at the end of the 1905 season and posted a 2-0 record with an ERA of 1.59. He had his best year in 1906, winning 18 and losing 15, with a 2.37 ERA while pitching for a poor team. On May 1, 1906, he entered the record books when he threw a no-hitter against the Brooklyn Nationals, winning 6-0. At twenty years and eight months of age, Lush is on record as the youngest pitcher to throw a no-hitter in major league history. Not one to forget his roots, he often visited Girard, giving out free passes to the students to watch the Phillies on weekends.
In 1907, Lush was traded to the St.Louis Cardinals. On September 2, 1907, teammate Art Fromme pitched the first game of a twin bill, shutting out the Cubs, 6-0. In the nightcap Lush also shut out the Cubs, 9-0, something of a rarity in baseball and made more special by the fact that the Cubs won the pennant and World Series that year.
On August 6, 1908, Lush tossed another no-hitter against Brooklyn, winning 2-0 in a rain-shortened six-inning affair.
Continually dogged by bad teams, Lush won only 46 more games through the 1910 season. After that year he retired from major league baseball.
Lush played sporadically on the West Coast for a few years. On September 20, 1914, pitching for Portland in the Pacific Coast League he was on the losing side of a no-hitter, dropping the game 1-0. He retired from professional baseball after the 1914 season.
Lush traveled to Hawaii, where he became a successful businessman, He owned and operated an upscale antique and jewelry store in Honolulu that catered to royalty. He often boasted of his friendship with a princess of the former royal family of Hawaii. Confined to the Hawaian Islands because of World War II, Lush returned to the mainland after the war was over in 1946.
John Charles Lush died November 18, 1946 in Beverly Hills, California. He is buried in the Calvary Cemetery in East Los Angeles. He was 6l years old.
Johnny Lush was at Girard when baseball was king in Philadelphia. At that time the game was a way out of poverty and a means of gaining some fame. Lush traveled and met a wide variety of people because of baseball. Living in Honolulu and California, he came a long way from Williamsport and Philadelphia.
Girard’s Major Leaguers
James, Bill. The New Bill James Historical Baseball Abstract. New York: The Free
Williamsport Sun, February 27, 1905.