Readers: Baseball is well into its playoffs, and we’re in the heart of football season. So how about a sports 2-parter?
Next week we’ll tell you about a native son; today a favorite dad.
This reporter has not been shy about the influence of longtime journalist Howard Kleinberg, who turns 85 this month and still is the best writer in the family. He started in sports, and during a recent visit, he showed yours truly a piece he did at the ripe age of 18 on the “Class D Florida East Coast loop,” a predecessor to the long-gone Florida International League.
Jumping out from the 1952 story: that golden Palm Beach County “angle.” In this case, it was that early league’s founder, Judge George W. Lynn.
Lynn’s journey from Greenwich Village is itself a remarkable tale. A graduate of Holy Cross and the New York Law School, he was a tennis pro when he was invited by a wealthy Palm Beacher, magazine publisher Alan Howard, to live aboard a docked yacht. His job: play against the man’s guests and “lose gracefully,” son John Kevin Lynn, now 71, said in September from San Jose, Calif.
Gordon Lynn later became tennis pro at the Everglades Club. But by 1937, Lynn was working as an attorney, and in June 1939, he became a municipal judge for the town of Palm Beach, a position that no longer exists. Florida abolished municipal judges in 1977. The judge’s first case: issuing a $2.50 bond for a man charged with speeding.
Judge Lynn got into baseball in 1940. He was the “East Coast Loop’s” first president and its treasurer. The league had six teams, including the West Palm Beach Indians, who’d win the pennant in 1941 but lose to Miami in the playoffs.
Around that time, Lynn — now 38 — heard about Pearl Harbor and tried to enlist, but he was color-blind, son John said. Instead, Gordon kept himself busy as baseball executive, judge, and town civil defense warden.
His baseball league disbanded in May of 1942. The International League would not start until 1946 and would last just 8½ years. The Florida State League, which started in 1919 but operated off-and-on through much of the 20th century, still is around.
Lynn stepped down as Palm Beach judge in February 1950 — in his last case, a parking transgressor got off with a warning — for what would be a failed bid for Palm Beach Town Council.
Lynn later would be first president of the local Quarterbacks Club, which promoted junior high athletics, according to a 1954 segment of Post sports columnist Bob Balfe’s “It’s Post Time,” one of the inspirations for this column.
In 1975, Gordon W. Lynn died at 71 at the Palm Beach Shores home where his daughter still lives. His wife Julia died at 85 in 1996. A third child, Gordon Douglas Lynn, lives in Washington state.
Next Week: The Longest Yard.
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