Results tagged ‘ Rogers Hornsby ’
The date April 30 was a memorable one for the Yankees and Lou Gehrig at both the start and finish of his Hall of Fame career.
It was on this date in 1923 that Gehrig, 19, a native New Yorker and a pitcher-first baseman at Columbia University, signed a professional contract with the Yankees. At that time, Gehrig was the second greatest player in Columbia’s baseball history. Already a star in the major leagues at that time was White Sox second baseman Eddie Collins, then in his 18th season.
On this same date in 1939, Gehrig played in the last of his 2,130 consecutive games. He went hitless in four at-bats in a 3-2 loss to the Washington Senators at the original Yankee Stadium. The next day was an open date for the Yankees, who traveled to Detroit. Before the May 2 game against the Tigers, Gehrig asked manager Joe McCarthy to remove him from the lineup.
It was later learned that Gehrig was suffering from amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS). The man known as “The Iron Horse” never played another game in the major leagues. The difficult to pronounce disease would soon bear his name as it does today and remains incurable.
At the 1939 Winter Meetings in Cincinnati, the Baseball Writers’ Association of America held a vote to elect Gehrig into the Hall of Fame. The proposal was passed unanimously, but Gehrig was never officially inducted.
Although he is usually listed in the class of 1939, the Hall of Fame induction ceremonies were during that summer when Gehrig was still on the Yankees’ roster. One of those 1939 inductees was Eddie Collins, along with Willie Keeler and George Sisler.
There were no Hall of Fame elections until 1942 when Rogers Hornsby was voted in by the BBWAA. By the time of that induction, however, Gehrig had already died of ALS June 2, 1941 at the age of 37.
The Major League Baseball schedule is made up annually without regard to such coincidences, but this May 2, which is Monday, the Yankees will once again find themselves in Detroit where one of the greatest careers in their franchise’s storied history came to an end.
So what happened to the American League Beast?
The division that has been touted as the toughest in the major leagues is the only one with a winless team, two of them in fact. The Red Sox and Rays both lost Thursday and are 0-6. It ought to be pretty interesting listening to the reaction of the fans in Fenway Park Friday when the team is announced individually before the home opener against the Yankees, who take to the road after a 4-2 homestand against the Tigers and Twins.
The Blue Jays also lost Thursday and are even with the Yankees at 4-2. The Orioles took a 4-1 record into a night game against Detroit. AL East teams are a combined 12-17 after the season’s first week.
Boston’s start is by far the most astonishing, considering that so many pre-season prognosticators had the Red Sox winning the World Series or at the least getting to it. They simply have not hit. Thursday was the first time the Red Sox were shut out (1-0), but they have scored 17 runs, less than three per game (2.83). They are batting .181 as a team and slugging .275! Man, do the Red Sox need to get back to Fenway in a hurry.
The Yankees didn’t even need home runs Thursday to beat Minnesota, 4-3. Another sound effort from A.J. Burnett (2-0 this year and 7-0 in April since joining the Yankees) set the pace. Rafael Soriano atoned for his blowup earlier in the week, and Mariano Rivera topped it off with a 1-2-3, 7-pitch ninth for his fourth save.
Instead of the long ball, the Yanks used some small ball for this victory, which was nice to see. Brett Gardner manufactured a run by himself without a hit in the third. After a leadoff walk, he stole second, crossed to third on an infield out by Derek Jeter and scored on a fly ball by Nick Swisher. (Jeter, by the way, had a double, a single and a walk in four plate appearances and passed Hall of Famer Rogers Horsnby on the career hit list with 2,931).
After the Twins went ahead, 2-1, in the fourth on doubles by Justin Morneau, Jim Thome and Jaason Kubel, the Yanks came right back in the bottom half with some more little ball. Andruw Jones doubled in a run and sent Robinson Cano to third. Russell Martin fought off a tough slider from Francisco Liriano and was able to hit a grounder to first that scored Cano on a contact play. A two-out single by Gardner made the score 4-2.
Burnett, who mixed in a changeup with an effective curve, was replaced in the seventh by Joba Chamberlain, who was pretty wild with numerous balls in the dirt. He hit Alexi Casilla with a pitch, then pretty much allowed him to get to third base. Castilla stole second largely because Martin could not throw to second until after he made a nice, short-hop stop of another pitch in the dirt by Chamberlain. In hurrying the throw, Martin threw wide of second and was charged with an unfortunate error as Casilla reached third. He scored on a grounder to the right side by Denard Span.
Thanks to Soriano and Rivera, the Yankees kept the Twins at bay. There was some ugliness in the bottom of the seventh, however, when Swisher upended Twins second baseman Tsuyoshi Nishioka attempting to break up a double play and succeeding. He also broke Nishioka’s leg. The rookie from Japan suffered a fractured fibula as the result of the play, which the Twins did not identify as dirty. Minnesota manager Ron Gardenhire termed the play hard but fair and that he likes the way Swisher plays.
Swisher was so upset that after the game he sought out Nishioka and talked to him.
“I told him I was just trying to break up and double play and that I didn’t mean to hurt him,” Swisher said. “I mean, that’s the last thing you want to do, especially to a guy who has come all the way over here to try to make his mark. He told, ‘It wasn’t your fault; I didn’t get out of the way.’ That made me feel better. I was glad I was able to talk to him and hope he gets back soon.”
Swish was unaware of the diagnosis when he spoke. One thing I heard from scouts years ago when Kaz Matsui was playing second base for the Mets is that Japanese middle infielders are not as quick around the bag on double plays, that they tend to drag their way across the base and may be vulnerable to hard slides.
Someone then mentioned Boston’s record to Swisher. “I don’t care if they’re 0-and-6 or 6-and-0,” he said. “It’s still Yankees-Red Sox. We expect a tough series.”