Taste Of Fame
Christina Gehrig dreamed of Gehrig going to college and becoming an engineer, even though at that time it was rare for working class children to continue their education beyond the eighth grade. After Gehrig graduated from grammar school, she arranged for him to attend the High School of Commerce, where he learned useful clerking skills like typing and bookkeeping. He also gained some fame as a player on Commerce's football, soccer, and baseball teams. Commerce won three straight soccer championships in his years there, and in 1920 Gehrig was even invited to play in a national high-school baseball championship game in Chicago with the Commerce team.
Christina Gehrig was dismayed at her son's continued interest in baseball, a sport which was only for "bummers" as far as she was concerned, and it took a great deal of pleading for Gehrig to convince her to let him take the trip to Chicago. The Commerce team traveled to Chicago on an elegant train, where former president William Howard Taft and other dignitaries stopped by to wish them well. In the ninth inning of the game, which was played in Wrigley Field, Gehrig hit a grand slam home run—a rare feat, for in the entire Major League season the previous year, only eighteen home runs had been hit at Wrigley Field.
Gehrig did not only play baseball with his school's team. The summer Gehrig was sixteen, he pitched in a Yonkers city league on the Otis Elevator Company team, since he had gotten an office job with that company for the summer. He also earned $5 a game playing semi-professional ball with the Minqua Baseball Club, which was sponsored by one of the many Democratic clubs which covered New York in those days. The fact that Gehrig was now making money from baseball went a long way to reconciling Christina Gehrig to the sport.
In Gehrig's senior year at Commerce, Christina took a job as a maid and cook at one of Columbia University's fraternity houses, where she made a connection with Columbia's graduate manager of athletics, Bobby Watt. Watt came to a Commerce game and watched Gehrig play football one day, and he was impressed enough to give Gehrig a football scholarship to the university.