Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Iron Man - Lou Gehrig

As Josh Hamilton made history and became the 16th Major Leaguer to hit four home runs in one game, it summoned images of the rare feat from one of our pinstripe brethren:  Iron Man - Lou Gehrig.  On June 3, 1932, Gehrig befitted the first "American League and modern player in baseball history to accomplish the feat as he tallied four consecutive home runs during a 20-13 slugfest against the Philadelphia Athletics."

At Shibe Park, Gehrig hit homers in the first, fourth and fifth inning of pitcher George Earnshaw.  His fourth homer came off pitcher Leroy Mahaffey in the seventh inning. No player has accomplished this feat more than once and no player has ever hit five home runs in one game, but Gehrig did have a chance to be the first in the ninth inning against pitcher Ed Rommel.  According to accounts of the day,  "A fifth home run was missed by inches as Gehrig hit his hardest shot of the day - caught in the furthest part of the park in deep centerfield."

Batting behind the Babe in the Yankees lineup, Lou - resolutely went about performing his job as the cleanup hitter and together they became a formidable combination. 1932, would also be the last great year for Babe Ruth, who was 37 years old.  Ruth hit .341 with 120 runs, 137 RBIs, and a league leading 130 walks.  And, for the first time since 1925, "The Sultan of Swat" did not lead the American League in home runs.  That distinction belong to Jimmie Fox; who won the Triple Crown - while batting .364/.469/.749 with 58 HRs and 169 RBIs.  That year the "Iron Horse" held his own:  .349/.451/.621 with 34 HRS (4th) and 151 RBIs (t-2).

As Yankees' lore would paint the picture for us, the 1932 World Series vs Chicago Cubs featured the assumed "Called Shot" by the Babe off pitcher Charlie Root.  In the fifth inning of game three, Ruth (with two strikes) held up his hand and gesticulated toward center field.  The next pitch by Root was deposited deep into the center field stands and the Yankees went on to win the game 7-5 and sweep the World Series.

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Geo Ginrosge