Story of the Week

LOU GEHRIG

    Sinatra & "the voice". B.B. King & the blues. Martin & Lewis. Abbott & Costello. Burns & Allen. Lucy & Desi. Steve & Edie. Las Vegas & long, hot summers. They are all linked together in our minds, and always will be, and rightfully so. So, too, are Ruth and Gehrig; just ask the teams they faced. Iíve written several references to Babe Ruth as well as a feature story about him dated June 6, 2002. But Iíve never written about this man who certainly deserves a feature story in my column, the great Lou Gehrig.

    Yes, he most assuredly played in Ruthís shadow, and it robbed this soft-spoken, humble man of the spotlight. The year Ruth retired (1935), Gehrig began a three-year streak of leading the AL in walks, a good measure of the respect opposing pitchers still had for him when he was in his mid-thirties.

    Gehrig had 200 or more hits in eight seasons, never hit below .300 from 1926 to 1937, and had a career batting average of .340. He tied Ruth for the RBI lead in 1928, and led the AL outright four times. His 184 RBIís in 1931 is still the league record. The "Iron Horse" led the AL in homers in 1934 and 1936, and tied Ruth for the lead in 1931. He also established the record for career grand slams with 23. On June 3, 1932, he was the first modern slugger to hit four home runs in one game.

    In 1934, Ruthís final year as a Yankee, Gehrig won the Triple Crown, leading AL in homers (49), RBIís (165), and batting average (.363). He batted .361 in career World Series play, averaging an RBI-per-game in 34 games, with 43 hits including 10 home runs.

    Suffering from the effects of amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, Gehrig took himself out of the Yankees line-up on May 2, 1939 after playing in 2,130 consecutive games, a record recently broken. He entered the Hall-of-Fame later that same year when the Baseball Writers Association waived the existing rule at the time which required a player to be retired one year before he could be elected to the Hall.

    On Lou Gehrig Day at Yankee Stadium, the stoical slugger told a packed house in most memorable fashion, "I may have been given a bad break, but with all this, I have a lot to live for. I consider myself the luckiest man on the face of the earth."

    Gary Cooper portrays Lou Gehrig in a movie classic, "The Pride Of The Yankees." Itís a little too much Hollywood, but a very good movie.

Last Weekís Trivia

    What is the largest deficit ever overcome by a major league baseball team to stave off elimination in a post-season game? The 2002 Angels, trailing three games to two, won game six of the World Series, 6-5, after having trailed 5-0 in the seventh inning. They then went on to win the Series.

Trivia Question of the Week

    It apparently is an all-baseball week. Who is the only player in baseball history to win the Cy Young and Rookie-of-the-Year awards? See next weekís Sports Junkie for the answer.