June 13 – Happy Birthday Red Grange
The only New York Yankee to be born on June 13th is a not-to-well-known but well-travelled pitcher named Darrell May. (You can read May’s Pinstripe Birthday Post from last year, here) Well that’s not exactly true. Red Grange was also born on June 13th and he also played for the New York Yankees in Yankee Stadium. Yes that Red Grange, the one and only “Galloping Ghost” who many sports historians considered to be the greatest football player who ever lived.
It happened in 1926. Grange had been involved in a bitter contract dispute with George Halas and the Chicago Bears. That’s when his flamboyant personal manager, C.C. (Cash & Carry) Pyle decided to pursue his own NFL franchise featuring Grange as the team’s star. Pyle approached the league and demanded permission to start a new team based in New York. Since Grange was the Babe Ruth of the NFL and the single biggest drawing card in the history of the league, every owner agreed to give Pyle his Big Apple team with the exception of one. Tim Mara, who owned the fledgling then one-year-old Giants’ franchise that played its home games in the Polo Grounds, vetoed the expansion attempt in his own backyard.
Pyle then formed his own league, the first American Football League, and the New York Yankees played their first season in 1926 in the House that Ruth had just built. The next year, the AFL was disbanded but the Yankees and Grange were absorbed into the NFL. The Ghost would return to the Bears the following year. Grange was born on June 13, 1903 and passed away in 1991.