Tagged: Triple Crown

The Luckiest Man

Lou Gehrig is remembered for three things: his greatness on the field, a speech, and the disease that claimed his life. He left a legacy in baseball and for those facing adversity, especially those battling ALS (Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis), Lou Gehrig’s Disease. Today is the 80th anniversary of Lou Gehrig Day at Yankee Stadium and Gehrig delivering baseball’s most famous speech. He did not focus on his problems, rather he spoke of the good in his life. A life cut short less than two years later. 

On the diamond, Lou Gehrig was a tremendous competitor, forming the toughest duo in baseball history with Babe Ruth. Gehrig played 17 seasons for the Yankees, 1923 to 1939. In 2,164 Games, Gehrig collected 2,721 Hits, 534 Doubles, 163 Triples, 493 Home Runs, 1,995 RBI, scored 1,888 Runs, Stole 102 Bases, drew 1,508 Walks, 790 Strike Outs, .340 BA, .447 OBP, .632 SLG, and 1.080 OPS. Gehrig’s career numbers ensured his enshrinement into Cooperstown, even without his special election in 1939.

Putting Lou Gehrig’s greatness into perspective, consider his all time rankings today. Gehrig ranks 64th in Hits with 2,271. He is 42nd in Doubles with 534 and 33rd in Triples with 163. His 493 Home Runs still ranks him 28th. His 1,995 RBI are seventh all time. Gehrig’s 1,190 extra base hits are 11th most and his 5,060 total bases are 19th all time. His 1,888 runs scored rank 12th all time. He walked 1,508 times, 17th most. A career .340 hitter, 16th best. His .447 OBP is fifth, his .632 SLG and 1.079 OPS both place him third all time. His 179 OPS+ ranks fourth and his 112.3 oWAR places him 14th. 80 years after his final game, Lou Gehrig remains an all time great. 

Hall of Fame numbers are not compiled in a few good seasons here and there, they come from excellence year after year. In Gehrig’s 17 seasons with the Yankees, he played fewer than 13 games in three seasons. Playing 14 full seasons before ALS robbed him of his abilities further shows Gehrig’s greatness. The Iron Horse registered eight seasons of 200 or more hits, leading the league in 1931. In 1927 and 1928 he led baseball in Doubles with 52 and 47 respectively. In 1926, his 20 triples paced baseball. Gehrig was the Home Run King three times (1931, 1934, and 1936). He was perfectly placed in Murderers’ Row, leading the league in RBI five times, driving in at least 109 in 13 consecutive seasons. He led baseball in Runs Scored four times, scoring 115 or more Runs in 13 consecutive seasons. The Iron Horse possessed both power and patience at the plate, drawing at least 100 Walks in 11 seasons, leading baseball on three occasions. Gehrig struck out a career high 84 times in 1927, he would never strike out more than 75 times in any other season. Gehrig hit .300 or better in 12 straight seasons, led the league in Slugging twice, OPS three times with 11 consecutive seasons above 1.000. He had five seasons with at least 400 total bases, leading baseball four times. In 1934, Gehrig won the American League Triple Crown with a .363 BA, 49 Home Runs, and 166 RBI. Shockingly he finished fifth in MVP voting behind a trio of Tigers (Mickey Cochrane, Charlie Gehringer, and Schoolboy Rowe) and teammate Lefty Gomez. Gehrig did win two MVP Awards (1927 and 1936), while finishing in the top five in six other seasons. The Iron Horse was always a MVP contender. 

Lou Gehrig
Lou Gehrig was one of the greatest players to ever step on a diamond. (Mark Rucker/ Transcendental Graphics, Getty Images)

The Yankees during the Gehrig years were seemingly in the World Series every October. Lou Gehrig played in seven Fall Classics. New York won six World Series with Gehrig (1927, 1928, 1932, 1936, 1937, and 1938), sweeping their National League opponents four times. Gehrig played in 34 Games with 119 At Bats. He collected 43 Hits, 8 Doubles, 3 Triples, 10 Home Runs, 35 RBI, and scored 30 Runs. He drew 26 walks against 17 Strikeouts. Gehrig hit .361, .483 OBP, .731 SLG, and 1.214 OPS. The Iron Horse helped the Yankees reach and win multiple World Series.

Despite his greatness on the diamond, Lou Gehrig is best remembered for the speech he gave on July 4, 1939, Lou Gehrig Day, as the Yankees honored him as he fought ALS. The Gettysburg Address of Baseball remains one of the most famous moments in baseball history. There is no known full recording of the speech, however we do have a partial recording and a transcript of Gehrig’s words.

“For the past two weeks you have been reading about a bad break. Yet today I consider myself the luckiest man on the face of the earth. I have been in ballparks for seventeen years and have never received anything but kindness and encouragement from you fans.

When you look around, wouldn’t you consider it a privilege to associate yourself with such a fine looking men as they’re standing in uniform in this ballpark today? Sure, I’m lucky. Who wouldn’t consider it an honor to have known Jacob Ruppert? Also, the builder of baseball’s greatest empire, Ed Barrow? To have spent six years with that wonderful little fellow, Miller Huggins? Then to have spent the next nine years with that outstanding leader, that smart student of psychology, the best manager in baseball today, Joe McCarthy? Sure, I’m lucky.

When the New York Giants, a team you would give your right arm to beat, and vice versa, sends you a gift- that’s something. When everybody down to the groundskeepers and those boys in white coats remember you with trophies- that’s something. When you have a wonderful mother-in-law who takes sides with you in squabbles with her own daughter- that’s something. When you have a father and a mother who work all their lives so you can have an education and build your body- it’s a blessing. When you have a wife who has been a tower of strength and shown more courage than you dreamed existed- that’s the finest I know.

So I close in saying that I might have been given a bad break, but I’ve got an awful lot to live for. Thank you.”

DJ

Al Rosen- Rest in Peace

We lost a legend over the weekend.  Al Rosen passed away at the age of 91.

Al Rosen, rest in peace. (www.cleveland.com)

Al Rosen, rest in peace. (www.cleveland.com)

Rosen delayed his baseball career after enlisting in the United States Navy in 1942.  He saw combat in the Pacific aboard an assault boat during the landing on Okinawa.  Rosen was a great player for the Cleveland Indians during his 10 seasons (1947-1956) in the Major Leagues.  He won the 1953 American League MVP.  After retiring he worked as the Present and CEO for the Yankees and Astros, and as the General Manager for the Giants.

 In December 2013, The Winning Run named Al Rosen as the third greatest Jewish Baseball player of all time.

Placing higher than a Hall of Fame player and manager, a spy, and a player who helped to end the Curse of the Bambino, means Al Rosen was a special player. This assertion is correct. While he has not been honored with a plaque in Cooperstown, his legacy is not forgotten.

Al Rosen’s career was delayed by his service in the Navy (1942-1946) during World War II. His actions in the Pacific include navigating an assault boat during the initial landing during the Battle of Okinawa. His actions no doubt helped to end the war and return the world to peace.

The fans of the Cleveland Indians were given the opportunity to watch the third (Rosen) and fourth (Lou Boudreau) best Jewish players in baseball history to play together from 1947 through 1950. Rosen played his entire 10 year career with the Indians. While he was only a bit player in 1947 until 1949, Rosen exploded onto the American League scene in 1950 by leading the league with 37 Home Runs. He would remain a staple of the Indians lineup until injuries forced his early retirement after the 1956 season.

Al-Rosen

Along with being apart of the 1948 World Series Championship team, Rosen had a career .285 Batting Average, with 192 Home Runs, 717 RBI, and 587 Walks against 385 Strikeouts. He was selected to four straight All Star games, led American League in Home Runs twice (1950 and 1953), RBIs twice (1952 and 1953), and was named the 1953 American League Most Valuable Player.

It is the 1953 season which launched Rosen to the third spot on the list of greatest Jewish players of all time. During this season Rosen collected 201 hits, scored 115 Runs (League leader), hit 27 Doubles, 43 Home Runs (League leader), 145 RBI (League leader), Walked 85 times against 48 Strikeouts, had .336 Batting Average (2nd in Batting Title), with a .422 On Base Percentage, .613 Slugging, 1.034 OPS, 367 Total Bases, and had a 10.1 WAR (9.1 oWAR). Winning the Triple Crown is no easy task, it has only been accomplished 16 times in baseball history, and only five times since Rosen began his career in 1947. In 1953, Rosen led the American League in Home Runs with 43, RBIs with 145, and finished second with a Batting Average of .336. The heartbreak of this seasons was that the Batting Title went to Mickey Vernon who finished the season batting .337. Rosen hit safely in 31 of his final 32 games, including the final 20 games of the season in his quest to win the Triple Crown. Ultimately, Roses, despite going 9 for his last 15, could not catch Vernon who went 5 for his last 16.

Al Rosen served his country honorably during World War II, became an All Star Major Leaguer, and put together one of the finest seasons in history in 1953. His service to both his country and to the game of baseball have earned him the distinction of being the third greatest Jewish baseball player of all time.

Rest in peace Mr. Rosen. You will be missed.

D

Greatest Jewish Baseball Players- #3 Al Rosen

Placing higher than a Hall of Fame player and manager, a spy, and a player who helped to end the Curse of the Bambino, means Al Rosen was a special player. This assertion is correct. While he has not been honored with a plaque in Cooperstown, his legacy is not forgotten.

Al Rosen’s career was delayed by his service in the Navy (1942-1946) during World War II. His actions in the Pacific include navigating an assault boat during the initial landing during the Battle of Okinawa. His actions no doubt helped to end the war and return the world to peace.

The fans of the Cleveland Indians were given the opportunity to watch the third (Rosen) and fourth (Lou Boudreau) best Jewish players in baseball history to play together from 1947 through 1950. Rosen played his entire 10 year career with the Indians. While he was only a bit player in 1947 until 1949, Rosen exploded onto the American League scene in 1950 by leading the league with 37 Home Runs. He would remain a staple of the Indians lineup until injuries forced his early retirement after the 1956 season.

Al-Rosen

Along with being apart of the 1948 World Series Championship team, Rosen had a career .285 Batting Average, with 192 Home Runs, 717 RBI, and 587 Walks against 385 Strikeouts. He was selected to four straight All Star games, led American League in Home Runs twice (1950 and 1953), RBIs twice (1952 and 1953), and was named the 1953 American League Most Valuable Player.

It is the 1953 season which launched Rosen to the third spot on the list of greatest Jewish players of all time. During this season Rosen collected 201 hits, scored 115 Runs (League leader), hit 27 Doubles, 43 Home Runs (League leader), 145 RBI (League leader), Walked 85 times against 48 Strikeouts, had .336 Batting Average (2nd in Batting Title), with a .422 On Base Percentage, .613 Slugging, 1.034 OPS, 367 Total Bases, and had a 10.1 WAR (9.1 oWAR). Winning the Triple Crown is no easy task, it has only been accomplished 16 times in baseball history, and only five times since Rosen began his career in 1947. In 1953, Rosen led the American League in Home Runs with 43, RBIs with 145, and finished second with a Batting Average of .336. The heartbreak of this seasons was that the Batting Title went to Mickey Vernon who finished the season batting .337. Rosen hit safely in 31 of his final 32 games, including the final 20 games of the season in his quest to win the Triple Crown. Ultimately, Roses, despite going 9 for his last 15, could not catch Vernon who went 5 for his last 16.

Al Rosen served his country honorably during World War II, became an All Star Major Leaguer, and put together one of the finest seasons in history in 1953. His service to both his country and to the game of baseball have earned him the distinction of being the third greatest Jewish baseball player of all time.

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Hall of Famer of the Week- Ty Cobb

Born on September 11, 1886 in Narrows, Georgia, Ty Cobb would become one of the greatest players in baseball history.  During his 24 year playing career, 22 with the Detroit Tigers and two with the Philadelphia Athletics, Cobb hit over .300 23 times.  His rookie year in 1905, Cobb hit .240 in 150 at bats, however he would never hit below .316 (his second season) again for the rest of his career.  His .367 career batting average remains a Major League record, which is unlikely to be surpassed.  He hit over .400 three times during his career (1911-.420, 1912-.409, and 1922-.401).  Remarkably Cobb did not win the batting title in 1922, as George Sisler hit .420 for the St. Louis Browns.  In 1909, Cobb won the Triple Crown leading the American League with a .377 batting average, 9 home runs, and 107 RBI.  The 1911 season was one of Cobb’s best seasons, and arguably one of the greatest of all time.  Cobb hit .420, collected 248 hits, 47 doubles, 24 triples, 127 RBI, scored 147 runs, 83 stolen bases, SLG .621, and OPS 1.088; all of which led the American League.  Cobb’s efforts earned him the Chalmers Award, the precursor to the MVP.

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The legendary tales of Cobb sharpening his spikes to intimidate others shows how intense of a competitor Cobb was on the field.  Cobb knew the strike zone as well as any hitter to have ever played the game.  He had only 680 strikeouts during his career, striking out over 50 times in a season only once.  His incredible plate discipline along with his speed on the base path presented a major problem to opposing teams.  Cobb was almost sure to make contact with any pitch, which made the hit and run play possible any time a runner was on base.  If the defense tried to prevent the runner from advancing, Cobb could hit the ball to foil the defenses plans.  Once he was on base, Cobb could distract the pitcher from the hitter.  Few, if any, infielders wanted to get in his way as he advanced around the bases for fear of injury from his spikes.  Cobb had 898 stolen bases during his career.  It was nearly impossible to keep Cobb off the bases and once he was there between his speed and intelligence opponents were unlikely to get him out.

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Cobb’s fierce nature on the field was unsurpassed during his playing career, most notably with his high spikes.  However, Cobb’s intensity extended beyond the field, as in 1912 he went into the stands in New York while playing the Highlanders and beat a man after the fan hurled insults at Cobb during a game.

Away from the baseball field Cobb was a shrewd investor, investing heavily in Coca Cola during its early years.  He was also a generous man, and his generosity off the field continues to be felt today.  Cobb founded the Ty Cobb Educational foundation, which has helped thousands of Georgia students to attend college by awarding scholarships.  To date, more than thirteen million dollars have been awarded to students.  Cobb also established the Cobb Memorial Hospital in 1950.  This hospital has become the Ty Cobb Healthcare System which continues to serve rural areas of Northwest Georgia.

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Cobb was a member of the inaugural class inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame in 1936.  He received 222 out of 226 votes.  He received more votes than the other members of the 1936 class: Honus Wagner (215), Babe Ruth (215), Christy Mathewson (205), and Walter Johnson (189).  Cobb earned the honor of being the first inductee into the Baseball Hall of Fame.  This honor was bestowed upon him as he received the highest vote total among those in the first class in 1936.  Cobb’s 98.23% of the Voting for the Hall of Fame remains the fourth best all time, behind only Tom Seaver (98.84%), Nolan Ryan (98.79%), and Cal Ripken Jr. (98.53%).

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…And We’re Back

The Winning Run is back from a long break.  The break was not due to a lack of things to write about, it was done in order to complete a Masters degree.  2012 had a knuckleball throwing Cy Young winner, a Triple Crown Winner, and a host of other crazy and fantastic events.  It might be the beginning of December but there is still plenty of baseball to talk about.  Lets get started.