Monday, May 11, 2015

Happy Baseball Birthday... Charlie Gehringer

Today's Happy Baseball Birthday! is Detroit Tigers Hall of Fame second baseman Charlie Gehringer.

Charles Leonard Gehringer was born in Fowlerville, Michigan, on May 11, 1903.

Gehringer played baseball, basketball, and football in high school, and attended the University of Michigan were he played baseball, and basketball.

Gehringer, for whatever reason, didn't letter in baseball, possibly because he still played for the local Fowlerville team as well as independent baseball in Indiana while attending Michigan.

Gehringer caught the eye of Tigers star outfielder Bobby Veach, and, after trying out for Tigers skipper Ty Cobb, was offered a contract, and in 1924 Gehringer signed with Detroit, and on September 22 Charlie made his big league debut at the age of 21.

This spring MLB had fans select the Franchise Four of every big league ball club.

My Tigers Franchise Four.... Ty Cobb, Gehringer,  Hank Greenberg, and Al Kaline. 

My generation of Tigers fans often get caught up in the glory of the 1984 Tigers, and would probably vote for Lou Whitaker, but Gehringer is the clear choice.

In ten years current Tigers slugging MVP and Triple Crown winner Miguel Cabrera will probably be there, but that's then...this is now...and then.

Gehringer, the Tigers second sacker between 1924-1942, is, in my opinion, to often overlooked when TV and media "experts" talk about the greatest second baseman in baseball history.

Joe Morgan, Bill Mazeroski, Ryne Sandberg, Roberto Alomar are always at the top of the discussion.

None of those great second baseman are as good as "The Mechanical Man."

19 years... 10,244 plate appearances,  8,860 at bats, 1,775 runs, 574 doubles, 146 triples, 184 home runs, 1,427 RBI, 181 stolen bases, 1,186 walks, a lifetime. 320 batting average, 2,323 games,and 2,839 hits.

Charlie Gehringer collected 200 or more hits in a season in 1929-30, 1933-37, including  227 hits in 1936.

Gehringer led the American League in games played in 1929-40, 1933-34, in doubles in '29, '36, and in stolen bases in '29.

In the field Gehringer led all A.L. second baseman in fielding percentage in 1929-30, 35-36, 39, 41.

In 1937 Gehringer was the American League Most Valuable Player, leading the A.L. in batting average, .371, collecting 209 hits, 40 doubles, 90 walk, 133 runs, with 14 home runs and 96 RBI in 564 at bats in 144 games.

As great a year as '37 was, Gehringer's finest season was probably 1929, when Charlie hit .339, led the A.L. in games played, 155, hits, 215, runs, 131, triples, 19,doubles, 46, smacking 13 home runs with 106 RBI in 717 plate appearances.

Gehringer was part of the Tigers famed "G-Men," of Hank Greenberg, Gehringer,  and Goose Goslin, all part of Detroit's great teams of the 1930s, and winners of consecutive A.L. Pennants in 1934-35, and the Tigers first World Series Championship, in 1935.

Gehringer played his final big league game on September 27, 1942, at the age of 39.

In 1949 Charlie Gehringer was Inducted into the National Baseball Hall of Fame in Cooperstown, New York.

The Tigers HOF second baseman had his #2 uniform number retired by the Tigers in 1983, along with his teammate Hank Greenberg's #5.

Charlie Gehringer passed away on January 21, 1993, in Bloomfield Hills,  Michigan, at the age of 89.

Happy Baseball Birthday! Charlie Gehringer!


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