Hall of Fame: Charlie Gehringer (1949)

The Mechanical Man

 Year Ag Tm  Lg  G   AB    R    H   2B 3B  HR  RBI  SB CS  BB  SO   BA   OBP   SLG *OPS+  TB   SH
+--------------+---+----+----+----+---+--+---+----+---+--+---+---+-----+-----+-----+----+----+---+
1924 21 DET AL 5 13 2 6 0 0 0 1 1 1 0 2 .462 .462 .462 139 6 0
1925 22 DET AL 8 18 3 3 0 0 0 0 0 1 2 0 .167 .250 .167 8 3 0
1926 23 DET AL 123 459 62 127 19 17 1 48 9 7 30 42 .277 .322 .399 86 183 27
1927 24 DET AL 133 508 110 161 29 11 4 61 17 8 52 31 .317 .383 .441 112 224 9
1928 25 DET AL 154 603 108 193 29 16 6 74 15 9 69 22 .320 .395 .451 121 272 13
1929 26 DET AL 155 634 131 215 45 19 13 106 27 9 64 19 .339 .405 .532 139 337 11
1930 27 DET AL 154 610 144 201 47 15 16 98 19 15 69 17 .330 .404 .534 134 326 13
1931 28 DET AL 101 383 67 119 24 5 4 53 13 4 29 15 .311 .359 .431 104 165 2
1932 29 DET AL 152 618 112 184 44 11 19 107 9 8 68 34 .298 .370 .497 119 307 3
1933 30 DET AL 155 628 103 204 42 6 12 105 5 4 68 27 .325 .393 .468 126 294 6
1934 31 DET AL 154 601 134 214 50 7 11 127 11 8 99 25 .356 .450 .517 149 311 5
1935 32 DET AL 150 610 123 201 32 8 19 108 11 4 79 16 .330 .409 .502 137 306 17
1936 33 DET AL 154 641 144 227 60 12 15 116 4 1 83 13 .354 .431 .555 142 356 3
1937 34 DET AL 144 564 133 209 40 1 14 96 11 4 90 25 .371 .458 .520 144 293 5
1938 35 DET AL 152 568 133 174 32 5 20 107 14 1 113 21 .306 .425 .486 121 276 3
1939 36 DET AL 118 406 86 132 29 6 16 86 4 3 68 16 .325 .423 .544 139 221 11
1940 37 DET AL 139 515 108 161 33 3 10 81 10 0 101 17 .313 .428 .447 119 230 10
1941 38 DET AL 127 436 65 96 19 4 3 46 1 2 95 26 .220 .363 .303 71 132 3
1942 39 DET AL 45 45 6 12 0 0 1 7 0 0 7 4 .267 .365 .333 91 15 0
+--------------+---+----+----+----+---+--+---+----+---+--+---+---+-----+-----+-----+----+----+---+
19 Seasons 8860 2839 146 1427 89 372 .320 .404 .480 124 141
2323 1774 574 184 181 1186 4257

1 MVP award (1937)
6 All-Star games (1933-1938)

Charles Leonard Gehringer was born on May 11, 1903 in Fowlerville, Michigan. He would go on to the University of Michigan where he played both basketball and baseball. Surprisingly, he lettered in basketball but not baseball. After his first season in 1923, Gehringer had at least impressed someone, and he was brought to Navin Field for a tryout for the Tigers. Ty Cobb, who was impressed by few, demanded the Tigers owner to sign him immediately. The owner did just that, and by the end of 1924, the young second baseman was a Tiger. He, however, would be sent down the following season and wouldn’t play his first full season until 1926.

Playing for Cobb was originally a good thing for Gehringer, and the youngster even used Cobb’s bat. Gehringer was a bigger hitter, but he didn’t dare use another bat. After referring to him as a father, Gehringer would gradually come around to the general opinion and call him a “hateful man”. Luckily, 1926 was Cobb’s last season as manager. Gehringer’s first season was fairly solid, but he took a big step up in 1927 and became a legit .300 hitter while also scoring 110 times. From 1926-1930, he would improve his Triple Crown categories every season, and the only other player to do that in his first five seasons is Rogers Hornsby. After a bumpy 1931, Gehringer came back to life, and by 1933, he was a star.

The Tigers would take a major step forward over the next few seasons. Gehringer teamed with the likes of Hank Greenberg and Goose Goslin, and in 1934, they reached the World Series. Feeling robbed of World Series (which they lost to the Cardinals), the Tigers came back the following year and slammed the Cubs to win the World Series. Gehringer was entering the wrong side of 30 by this point, but he would have his finest seasons in 1936 and 1937. He would continue to play well, but injuries became a problem toward the end of the decade and the beginning of the next. After an embarassing 1941 and 1942, Gehringer called it quits.

In retrospect, Gehringer is one of the best second baseman in the game. He hit and was known as one of the best fielders ever at the position. Off the field, he was unassuming, and his manager once said, “He said hello on Opening Day and good bye the last day. In between, he hit .350”. In another story, Detroit held a Gehringer Day in 1929 where he was awarded a set of golf clubs. The clubs were right-handed and Gehringer hit left-handed, but instead of asking for a different set, he learned to play right-handed.

Gehringer’s fun with Major League Baseball didn’t end then. In 1949, he was elected to the Hall of Fame, but he also wasn’t. In the first election, he only received 102 of 115 votes needed, but the Hall called for a special election. The Hall wanted a selection and Gehringer had been the most-voted for player, so they had a run-off. Gehringer would be elected with 85% of that vote. Seeing the faults of this, the selection committee decided to abandon the run-off in following elections, but it would be brought back in 1960.

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