Palm Beach town judge founded now-de­funct base­ball league

The Palm Beach Post - Neighborhood Post - Western Palm Beach County - - Front Page - Eliot Klein­berg Post Time ek­lein­berg@pb­post.com Twit­ter: @eliotkpbp

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 long­gone 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 col­or­blind, 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 of­fand-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. Sub­mit your ques­tions to Post Time, The Palm Beach Post, 2751 S. Dixie High­way, West Palm Beach, FL 33405. In­clude your full name and home­town. Email EK@ pb­post.com or call 561-8204418. Sorry; no per­sonal replies.

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