Thursday, July 3, 2014

July 4, 1939 was also Johnny Welaj Day at Yankee Stadium

For a special group from Manville, NJ, July 4, 1939 was Johnny Welaj Day at Yankee Stadium. The pride of Manville, Johnny “Legs” Welaj was a member of the Washington Senators, only two months into his major league career.
Johnny Welaj
Over 150 family members, friends, and elected officials traveled forty-five miles to celebrate his newly minted big league status. The Yankees and Senators were scheduled to play a double header, and prior to the first game Welaj was showered with praise as Manville mayor Alex Batcho addressed the crowd. It was only as they were proceeding with the ceremony that Welaj was notified that Lou Gehrig would be giving his retirement speech in between games.


Welaj sat the first game of the double header and had a rather difficult task to follow Gehrig’s iconic speech as the lead-off batter of the second game.

He spent four seasons in the major leagues with the Washington Senators and the Philadelphia Athletics, losing three years to military service in World War II. He continued to play in the minor leagues through 1956, and then spent the next 43 years working for the Washington Senators and Texas Rangers in various front office capacities, fully retiring in 1999.

He passed away September 13, 2003 at the age of 89 in Arlington, Texas. 
 

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