A Biography in 1,000 Players No. 16 Lou Gehrig (Number 1 First Base)

Lou Gehrig is so well known for having the consecutive games played record before Cal Ripkin Jr. and having Lou Gehrig disease people forget what a great ball player he was. When Gehrig was 31, he won the triple crown leading the lead in homers, RBIs and batting average. It was the first of four year in a row he led the league in on base percentage. Everyone noticed the year after that (1938) he was off his game, but didn’t he was at the start of a crippling disease. He was still hit will above average in 1938 just below Lou Gehrig average. Apparently in 1939 he was even worse in spring training and he chose to retire after 8 games. I read in a couple of sources it was because everyone complemented him on what a good play he made when he thought it was just an average play. From personal experience it doesn’t pay to patronize people. They know. I know because I had a lot of people patronize me. Some I even called them on it.

The movie biography on Lou Gehrig “Pride of the Yankees” is a loved by critics. It is with Gary Cooper making the “Luckiest Man on the face of the Earth” speech. However, did you ever notice how bad the first half of the movie is. To me it is like the William Bendix movie on Babe Ruth except Gary Cooper looks more like an athlete and does a better job playing Gehrig than Bendix did playing Ruth. However, the movie is pretty corny up to that point. Mother Gehrig is kind of a pain. I was excited to see Babe Ruth play Babe Ruth, but it is such a stupid role, I was greatly disappointed. Also, the great Wally Cox telling everyone what a real unpretentious man Gehrig is. Thank goodness Teresa Wright comes into the movie playing Lou’s wife. She makes the pitcher sparkle and gives Gehrig someone to react off who didn’t always agree with him. I just looked it up and she was nominated for the supporting actress actor for the role. It makes Gehrig’s news about more heart breaking.

What is also true to life people try to help other’s by not getting bad medical news. Believe me they know anyway despite not being told. At least they know that something is wrong and sometimes it is worse than not knowing what is happening. When I 13 I was diagnosed with muscular dystrophy. My parents didn’t tell me, but I knew something was up, the minute they came back after talking to Denver. The fact we had to fly to Denver to consult an expert was also telling. However, it turned out I didn’t have the disease. I was just weak and clumsy and had some other problems like a bit of asthma. So, I learned to be more direct if I was the responsible person.

Some people might complain about Gehrig having a low ranking here. Bill James had him 14th and there were complaints he was ranked too low. Also, I have only 3 first basemen with more than 1,000 points out of a total of 55. I consider players with 1,000 or more A+ sure fire hall of famers. I have 55 players like that. There are close to 20,000 players who played MLB baseball. That means less than 1 player out of 350 players makes this criterion. The only position that has less than first base is relief pitchers who I will discuss further in the Mariana Rivera write up. Maybe first basemen need a boost. However, I have more first basemen in the top 1,000 than any other position player, so I don’t feel I should give Gehrig more points. Basically I feel I have Gehrig in the right spot.

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Author: Douglas Byzewski

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