Sunday, March 27, 2011

Gehrig "sleepwalked" out of '31 HR title

Uncommon commons. Contemporary accounts of tidbits that as a collector of baseball and football cards I found interesting because they helped bring to life the faces on the cards I collected. I figure that if I found these items of interest, so would other vintage card collectors.

According to the official baseball record book, the American League (and MLB) record for home runs in 1931 is shared by teammates Babe Ruth and Lou Gehrig, with 47 each.

According to one of New York's premier baseball writers of all time, Dan Daniels, the Iron Horse was robbed of sole possession of the HR crown that year by Yankees shortstop Lyn Lary.

In a game at Griffith Stadium against the Senators, Lary was on first base when Gehrig hit a pitch over the right field wall. According to an observer, Lary "jogged past second, touched third and then scurried to the bench." Gehrig was called out when he touched home plate for "passing" Lary on the basepath.

"Lary had sleepwalked Lou out of the crown," Daniels wrote.

Lary, of course, had a different take. The right field fence at Griffith Stadium was 320 feet from home plate in those days. Lary said that Gehrig's blast had gotten over the wall, hit an empty seat back and bounced back to the right fielder so quickly that when the outfielder threw the ball back in to the pitcher, Lary assumed it had been caught for the third out and had headed for the dugout.

The shared title in 1931 was Ruth's 12th and final home run crown, and the first of three for Gehrig.

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