Continuing our mission of honoring baseball’s greatest sluggers, The 500 Home Run Club, LLC salutes Lou Gehrig (Henry Louis Gehrig), whose incredible batting accomplishments included hitting 493 home runs (just 7 shy of the mystical 500 mark), despite having his career tragically shortened, by the disease amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) – later named “Lou Gehrig’s Disease.”
Note: Lou Gehrig died at just 37 years of age. His career could have gone on for several more years had he not been struck down by ALS. Babe Ruth played five seasons longer than Gehrig and among the members of the 500 Home Run Club® only Eddie Matthews and Mark McGuire had shorter careers than did Gehrig. This makes Gehrig’s 493 homers all the more significant.
During the Yankees banner season in 1927, Gehrig had one of the greatest seasons by any batter in baseball history. He batted .373, with 218 hits, 52 doubles, 20 triples, 47 home runs, 174 runs batted in, and .774 slugging average. Read another way: The 1927 New York Yankees team was arguably the greatest team in baseball history—and Lou Gehrig was arguably the best player on that team that year (Babe Ruth not withstanding) substantiated by the fact that Gehrig, not Ruth, was elected the 1927 America League Most Valuable Player.
As the following information clearly demonstrates, Gehrig was one of the greatest all-around hitters and most prolific home run sluggers of all time, and should be considered among the elite.
His feats include:
5 seasons with more than 40 home runs.
The All-Time Record of Career Grand Slams (23)
The All-Time American League Record for RBIs in a season (184 in 1931).
The most home runs in a single game—4 (with 14 other players)
Being one of just two players in baseball history to collect at least 500 doubles, 150 triples, and 400 home runs in a career (along with Stan Musial)
A lifetime slugging percentage of .632
A lifetime on-base percentage of .447
8 seasons with 200 or more hits
8 seasons with 150 or more RBIs
A lifetime batting average of .340; with 6 seasons of .350 or better (with a high of .379 in 1930)
Being selected as a MLB All-Star every single season from the first All-Star game in 1933 until he retired in 1939 (7 consecutive times).
Winning the Triple Crown in 1934 by leading the American League in batting average, home runs, and RBIs (an accomplishment Babe Ruth never achieved)
Being inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame in 1939. He had the mandatory waiting period waived and was inducted the very year he retired (the youngest player ever up until that time).
Only player to hit 40 doubles and 40 home runs in the same season in three different seasons (1927, 1930, 1934)
Scoring the game-winning run in 8 World Series games
Being the first Major League Baseball player to have his uniform number retired
Driving in 100 or more runs in 13 consecutive seasons (1926-1938), tying Babe Ruth’s record
Fun Facts About Lou Gehrig:
Gehrig fans contend that he actually hit 494 homers, but had one removed from the record books by one of the strangest events in baseball history. On April 1931, with Lyn Lary on base, Lou Gehrig hit a home run into the stands in Washington. The ball bounced back on the field, however, and Lary saw a Washington outfielder catching it on the bounce. Thinking it is the last out of the inning, Lary ran straight to the Yankee’s dugout after crossing third. Gehrig, not realizing what his teammate had done, continued circling the bases and was called out when he crossed third for “passing" Lary. Instead of a home run, Gehrig is credited with a triple. At the end of the season, Gehrig and Ruth end up tied for the home run title.
He clearly contributed to Babe Ruth's home run heroics since - season after season - he batted immediately after Ruth on the famous “Murders Row” squad of Babe Ruth, Tony Lazzeri and Bob Meusel.making the pitcher reluctant to walk Ruth, knowing that Gehrig threatened to bat him in.
Gehrig's career peaked during the 1932 World Series against Chicago -- the series where Babe Ruth is credited with his infamous "called shot.” Gehrig batted .529 with 3 home runs and 8 RBIs.