Cieradkowski: Lou Gehrig, uncovering the mysterious ‘Lou Long’

From SABR member Gary Cieradkowski at Studio Gary C on May 2, 2018:

One of my favorite areas of baseball research is finding the “lost years” of a player’s career. What I’m talking about is a season spent playing in the army or semi pro leagues, the latter often under assumed names. Because this wasn’t the big leagues, contemporary coverage was often scanty or non-existant, leading researchers to throw up their hands and declare said year as a “lost season.” There are two examples that I am currently completing for the next issue of ’21’ – Joe DiMaggio’s 1943 season spent with the Santa Ana Army Air Base and Waite Hoyt’s lost Baltimore Dry Docks 1919 season. While these two stories are being completed, I thought I’d toss up one of my first research projects into a player’s “lost year” – that of the time Lou Gehrig played in Morristown, New Jersey under the name “Lou Long.” I am particularly proud of this little piece as I was able to substantiate a rumor I had heard growing up in North Jersey, that the great Gehrig played ball for a town team before he began his career with the Yankees. There was even talk of a faded photo of this mythical team that once hung in a tavern in Morristown, though several attempts at bar-hopping my way through the town led me to assume that whatever establishment it once hung in was no longer around. Several Gehrig biographers briefly note the Hall of Famer’s appearance in semi-pro lineups under assumed names, and one or two even mention “Morristown” as one of those places, yet no one had really taken a good look at this interesting part of Gehrig’s early career. New Jersey writer Joe Connor did some great digging into the Gehrig-Morristown legend and I contacted him to trade information back in 2012. After we talked, Joe was actually able to find the former owner of the tavern and get a shot of the fabled team photograph while I tracked down some local newspaper coverage from the summer of 1922 that included game reports and box scores with a “Lou Long” at first base for Morristown.

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Originally published: May 2, 2018. Last Updated: May 2, 2018.