George Elder Early Life
He was born as George Rezin Elder, Jr. in Lebanon, Kentucky on March 10, 1921 to George Rezin and Mary Ellen (Lily) Elder.He had one brother and three sisters. His mother died when he as one yar old due to tuberculosis.
In th mid 1920’s, his family moved to Louisville, Kentucky so his father could work at a retail clothing store. In the 1930’s his family moved to Chicago where his dad worked in selling women’s clothes.
When George was 8 years old, his brother, Jack, was playing football for Notre Dame at Yankee Stadium for the national championship against Army on November 30, 1929. Jack was an indoor sprint champion and at one time held a world record, however, in the game he intercepted a pass by Army quarterback Red Cagle of Army and took it 100 yards for a score. The Irish won the game and his brother was the hero. From that point on, George was known as the younger brother of Jack at all sporting events.
George Elder in High School
George played football at Fenwick High school and ran track along with playing basketball. He accumulated three letters in football, four in basketball and two in track and was an multi sports star in Chicago. However, in his senior season he came down with streptococcus and lost 35 pounds and much of his strength was gone.
George Elder in College and Navy
George received many offers to play football. He was nearly as fast as Jack but decided he didn’t want to follow in his siblings foot steps at Notre Dame and instead accepted a scholarship at Fordham where he could be himself.
In 1941, as a freshman, George didn’t play as freshman were not allowed on varsity, he watched his team go 8-1 and play on the Sugar Bowl. George was consider an real talent on the way.
In 1942, he played against Purdue and Tennessee but an injury sidelined him. He left and went to Dartmouth College and joined the V-12 training program. This was a program of college men who could become commissioned officers. George didn’t make it and was went to Marine camp at Parris Island and was assigned to battery B of the 11th Battalion.
His battalion was sent to Hawaii to participate in the World War II Pacific theatre. His leg injury which kept him from completing his football career once again kept him from taking part in combat. His first unit action took place on October 21, 1944 on the island of Leyte . General Douglas McArthur has come ashore and a battle was looming. Elder was listed as an artillery man. His unit saw action a Iwo Jima. Elder didn’t like talking about this part of his life.
When action settled down, George Elder played some baseball on the Marne base and naval officers saw him play and suggested he stick to baseball. In January 1946 he was discharged from active duty.
George Elder in California
Upon leaving the Navy. Elder decided to rejoin his father in California. He enrolled at UCLA where they had recently hired Art Reichle as baseball coach. Reichle was a former Army Air Corps major and built a team of returning vets.
UCLA put together a 31 game schedule. It was primarily against a four team league known as the California Intercollegiate Baseball Association which composed of four teams such as UCLA, USC, Stanford and California.
They also had practice contests with military base teams, city colleges and police teams throughout Los Angeles. The first game was on March 11 when they played a police team. UCLA lost 13-10 in a slugfest. They won their next 10 practice games. George Elder hit two runs on he way to a 13-0 win over Santa Monica Ciy College. UCLA opened league play with a 2-1 win over Stanford. The following day , George Elder smacked a grand slam in the first inning that saw the Bruins win 17-10.
George again, couldn’t escape his brothers shadow as news accounts of the game labeled George as “brother of the former Notre Dame halfback.” This was 16 years later.
Th team ended the conference season in third place. After the season, coach took a few players to barnstorm and it was there that George Elder caught the attention of the Pacific Coast League scouts and an offer was made. George and his UCLA coach collaborated and decided but before that happened, he got an offer from the St.Louis Browns. George took their offer and he was soon to be a professional baseball player.
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George Elder Professional Player
.He was sent to the Mud Hens. He batted lead off and played center field.He got in a slump and was moved to eighth in the lineup. On June 11, he had his greatest moment when he drove home the winning run in the 14th inning for a win.
His bat came back in the summer and hit.312 He had a knack for stealing bases. The team was last but Elder had established him well. He was 5-foot-11 and weighed 180 pounds but the speedster batted left and threw right-handed. In the spring of 1948, he started well but got another slump and was replaced. He was eventually sent to SanAntonio of the AA Texas League. He started well for the Missions and played some third base and was stealing bases. He was sold to Toledo and kept pounding the ball. On September 30th, he was acquired by the Baltimore Orioles of the International League. In November, the St Louis Browns had Elder on a list to head o Panama for the pro league. He didn’t sign with any team in the league. Hollywood, Florida was the training spot for the St Louis Browns. and in 1949 he brought his wife and dog to Spring Training. and prepared for the season. but wasn’t considered anything other than an extra outfielder. He was strong in his game but to no avail. He was sent o Double-A in Beaumont, Texas and was playing well when on July 19, with the Browns mired low in the standings called him up as a pinch runner.
George Elder made his major league debut on July 22, 1949 BOXSCORE HERE.
He doubled to right in the 9th for his lone hit on his debut. In his career, h played in 41 gamed and made seven starts in left field. He batted 44 time for a .250 average. He was 5- for-19 as a pinch hitter.
From 1950 to until he retired he bounced around the minor leagues
George Elder After Baseball
He was a deputy sheriff in Los Angeles county and a court bailiff in Santa Monica, CA. He married Mary Ann in 1985, his second marriage and began training horses. They moved to Colorado in 2005. He turned 100 years old in March of 2021 and following the death of Eddie Robinson on October 4, 2021, Elder became he oldest living former professional baseball player.
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