On this date the Iron Horse started chugging

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Eighty-eight years ago on June 1, 1925, Ludwick Heinrich Gehrig pinch hit for Pee-Wee Wanninger and was put out by the Washington Senators. He would go on to play 2,129 more games in a row to finish his iron man streak at 2,130 games (not including World Series Games). Thus was started a record that would stand until Cal Ripkin, Jr. broke it. Many of us have seen the movie, Pride of the Yankees, and to this day the Gary Cooper biopic has remained one of my favorite baseball movies of all time. And while the movie is fantastic, there were a few creative licences taken with how the streak started.

First, many think the streak started as Lou Gehrig‘s career started. But Gehrig had actually played twenty-three games in 1923 and 1924 and had played in eleven previous games in the early part of the Yankees’ 1925 season before Wally Pipp could not play on June 2, 1925. So the picture of this forlorn figure in the dugout pining away on the bench was a bit embellished. And Gehrig did go three for five in his first start for Pipp on June 2, with a double. But unlike the movie, Gehrig did not exactly take the world by storm from there. By June 12, Gehrig was only batting .227 with a .273 on-base percentage.

He did take off from there though and by July 3 had built his averaged to a season high of .328 before finishing his first full season at .295/.365/.531. His OPS+ that season only hinted at what was to come at 127. Here is a trivia question for you: Who led the Yankees in homers and runs batted in during the 1925 season? That was Bob Meusel with 38 and 138.

Poor Wally Pipp, who became synonymous forever for guys who lose their job, had started the season as the every day Yankees’ first baseman. But though Gehrig is considered the reason Pipp lost his job because Pipp could not play on June 2, the truth was that Pipp was not playing well and was only batting .244 at the time. Pipp only missed a game and was merely a pinch hitter the rest of that season for the Yankees. Pipp would be sold to the Reds after the season and finished out his last three seasons there.

As for Lou Gehrig, the rest is history. He played every game for the Yankees from 1926 through the 1938 season before having to give it all up in 1939 with his famous illness. He led the league in triples once, doubles twice, homers three times, RBIs five times and total bases four times. He won two MVP awards and set a record for grand slams with 23, a mark that would not be matched until Alex Rodriguez tied him.

While Lou Gehrig is known for the disease and for his streak, his consecutive games played would be meaningless without the fact that he was one of the best players who ever played the game. In fact, the statistic that impresses me the most was that in 150 World Series plate appearances, he accumulated a 1.208 OPS. Yeah, he did some post season damage alright. But it is the streak we remember and which gave him his nickname. And that streak started on this date back in 1925. Continue reading On this date the Iron Horse started chugging

Larry Gowell batted 1.000

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I mentioned in an article last week that I enjoy pouring over Yankee lists using the Play Index at Baseball-reference.com. This time, on a whim, I searched for players who finished their Yankee career with a 1.000 batting average. I found five. Two of them do not really count because they also played elsewhere in the majors. Those two were Chris Latham, who had two plate appearances for the Yankees and recorded two hits and scored three runs in 2003. He was a Twins’ product and put in parts of five years in the majors. Then there was Mickey Witek who played six years for the New York Giants, mostly during the WWII years before his one at bat and one hit with the Yankees in 1949. So those two really do not count. The other three included a guy who piqued my interest because he was born and still lives in Maine where I live and because his one hit has a lot of history to it. He was a pitcher by the name of Larry Gowell and his two game career occurred in 1972.

(click “view full post” to continue reading) Continue reading Larry Gowell batted 1.000

Open Thread-TYA Trivia for 4-16-11

On every (non-game) night throughout the year, one of the TYA writers will post a trivia question as the nightly open thread. The blog administrators will keep track of the winners, and the commenter with the most correct answers will win a prize that has yet to be decided upon. The answers will be posted in the following evening’s open thread. Every so often, these trivia questions write themselves. Last night, the Yanks tied an AL record for hitting into six double plays in a 9 inning game. Name the last AL team to do it without going to extra Continue reading Open Thread-TYA Trivia for 4-16-11

TYA Trivia and Open Thread for 4-3-11

Wednesday’s Question: Joe Girardi will begin his fourth season as Yankees manager tomorrow. His four years are an especially long tenure for a Steinbrenner(s) era Yankee manager. Name every Yankee manager (hired) since George Steinbrenner bought the team in 1973. Answer: Bill Virdon, Ralph Houk, Billy Martin, Bob Lemon, Dick Howser, Dallas Green, Bucky Dent, Yogi Berra, Clyde King, Gene Michael, Lou Piniella, Stump Merrill, Buck Showalter, Joe Torre, Joe Girardi Today’s Question: Mark Teixeira is off to a torrid start, hitting 3 HRs in his first three games of the year. Which Yankee holds the team record for most Continue reading TYA Trivia and Open Thread for 4-3-11

TYA Trivia and Open Thread for 3-30-11

On every night throughout the year, one of the TYA writers will post a trivia question as the nightly open thread. The blog administrators will keep track of the winners, and the commenter with the most correct answers will win a prize that has yet to be decided upon. The answers will be posted in the following evening’s open thread. Yesterday’s Question: It was recently announced that Mike Mussina will throw out the first pitch on opening day this season. I never fully appreciated Mussina during his playing days. The media, however, did. In addition to having been a perennial Cy Young Continue reading TYA Trivia and Open Thread for 3-30-11

TYA Trivia Open Thread for 3-29-2011

On every night throughout the year, one of the TYA writers will post a trivia question as the nightly open thread. The blog administrators will keep track of the winners, and the commenter with the most correct answers will win a prize that has yet to be decided upon. The answers will be posted in the following evening’s open thread. Last Question: Gustavo Molina (of Venezuela) may be the Yankees Opening Day backup Catcher, but he is not related to the famous catching trio of Molinas (of Puerto Rico) one of whom made history last year. Having played on both Continue reading TYA Trivia Open Thread for 3-29-2011

TYA Trivia Open Thread For 3-26-11

On every weeknight throughout the year, one of the TYA writers will post a trivia question as the nightly open thread. The blog administrators will keep track of the winners, and the commenter with the most correct answers will win a prize that has yet to be decided upon. The answers will be posted in the following evening’s open thread. Yesterday’s Question: As the season rapidly approaches, many of us find ourselves very optimistic about the Yankees prospects.  Name the last five Yankees to earn the Rookie of the Year award.  Bonus point if you can recall the year and Continue reading TYA Trivia Open Thread For 3-26-11

TYA Trivia Open Thread For 3-25-11

On every weeknight throughout the year, one of the TYA writers will post a trivia question as the nightly open thread. The blog administrators will keep track of the winners, and the commenter with the most correct answers will win a prize that has yet to be decided upon. The answers will be posted in the following evening’s open thread. Yesterday’s Question: Jesus Montero has been in the news lately as the Yankees top prospect. Name the last 10 top Yankee prospects ranked by Baseball America. Bonus points if you can name the #2 prospect for each of those 10 Continue reading TYA Trivia Open Thread For 3-25-11