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Playing with the Best (Hardback)

One Man's Journey through the Golden Age of Sports

Hobbies & Lifestyle > Sport

Imprint: Brookline Books
Pages: 272
Illustrations: 10
ISBN: 9781955041355
Published: 15th July 2024


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Before Bo Jackson and Deion Sanders, there were only nineteen men, throughout history, who played in the Major Leagues of baseball and in the National Football League, in the same season. Only one man from that group, Walter French, can lay claim to having played for a World Series winner and an NFL Championship team. In 1925, he starred for the Pottsville (PA) Maroons in their win over the Chicago Cardinals, in what was believed to be the NFL championship game, only to see the title stripped by a league office decision, a controversial move still being argued about today. Then in 1929, he was on the Philadelphia Athletics when they beat the Chicago Cubs in five games to win the World Series.

Walter E. French was born in Moorestown, New Jersey in 1899 and he just might have been the best, but least known, all-around athlete to emerge from the decade of the 1920s, commonly referred to as the “Golden Age of Sports.” One analyst ranked him as the fastest man in football at the time, even placing him ahead of Red Grange. Although his exploits have dropped from the consciousness of all but the most ardent of sports fans in the last one hundred years, in his day, he was constantly in the news.

He played with and against the biggest stars the decade of the 1920s had to offer, including Babe Ruth, Lou Gehrig, Walter Johnson, Ty Cobb, and twenty-seven other ballplayers who would eventually wind up in the Baseball Hall of Fame. In football, he went up against the likes of Notre Dame’s George Gipp, the “Four Horsemen,” Curly Lambeau, Geoge Halas, Ira “Buck” Rogers and many more. The top sports writers of his day, from Grantland Rice to Ed Sullivan, made regular mention of him in their columns. Other well-known figures from the period such as Paul Robeson, Knute Rockne, Connie Mack, and General Douglas MacArthur are part of his journey as well, and make appearances in this book.

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