Film of Babe Ruth facing Walter Johnson is enough to get any self-respecting baseball nerd drooling. But this restored 1925 newsreel features something that pushes it into the realm of history: footage of Lou Gehrig during the very first game of his consecutive-games streak.
The film, a Fox Movietone News reel outake housed at and restored by University of South Carolina’s Moving Image Research Collections, features a precious few minutes of a Senators-Yankees game from June 1, 1925. Baseball Hall of Fame researcher Tom Shieber set out to figure out just why it was filmed in the first place, and discovered that it was Ruth’s first game of the season after undergoing surgery for a serious and mysterious stomach ailment during spring training—the so-called “Bellyache Heard ‘Round the World.”
Ruth went 0-2 with a walk that afternoon, finishing his day at the plate with a sixth-inning groundout to second, captured at 0:36 of the video.
But it’s noteworthy for so much more than that. At 1:11, there are long shots of Ruth standing in the Yankee dugout. Behind him, on what looks like a cell phone but presumably isn’t, is then-21-year-old first baseman Lou Gehrig. June 1, 1925 is a significant date in Gehrig lore. In the eighth inning of that afternoon’s game, he would pinch hit for Pee-Wee Wanninger, the first game in his streak of 2,130 consecutive games played.
For much more on the game and the footage, check out Tom Shieber’s site.