July 13, 2020


Tales From Lou Gehrig's Long-Forgotten Newspaper Columns (Gary Waleik, 7/10/20, WBUR: Only a Game)

In his 1927 columns, Gehrig also told stories about the legendary Babe Ruth, who had been his mentor.

"At one point even offering Lou financial guidance in the dugout," Gaff says. "On one occasion, he was telling Lou, you know, 'I've made a fool of myself. I spent all my money. And you should plan for the future. Invest your money.' And, during this entire conversation, everybody on the Yankees team was just bent over double. Because, up to that point, Babe Ruth had squandered every cent he had ever made."

That season, Ruth and Gehrig were locked for a time in a tight battle for the home run title. Stories circulated about alleged acrimony between the two. But Gehrig publicly professed his admiration for the Babe. He shared the following story on Sep. 21, 1927.

Up at Toronto in an exhibition game a couple of years ago, the kids mobbed the field as the game ended. There must have been a thousand of them, and they all made a bee line for Babe. They struck him like a huge wave, and he went down flat on his face, literally buried under a landslide of kids.

It looked as though he must be trampled to death, and players and cops formed a flying wedge to rescue him. But before we got there, he emerged smiling, two or three youngsters clinging to his broad back, others hanging on his legs, and one under each arm. Most players would have been angered and disgusted. But the Babe was smiling as he trotted to the runway and still smiling when he disappeared under the stands.

As he started down in the dugout, he happened to look back. One little youngster was still standing over by first base, crying. Babe turned back through the mob again and went to the kid.

"What's the matter, kid?" he asked.

"I got my hand stepped on," the little fellow whimpered. "It hurts."

"That's all right," Babe replied, taking the lad in his arms. "We'll get that fixed." And back he ploughed through the mob, the youngster held in his arms.

"Look out, here comes the ambulance!" he called. Then he took the lad into the clubhouse, and Babe bandaged the sore finger himself. After that, he gave the lad a baseball, a pat on the back, and sent him away smiling. That's typical of the Babe.

Gehrig was also friendly with Tris Speaker and Walter Johnson. In describing his relationship with contemporary greats, Gehrig always seemed awestruck. His humility often bordered on inferiority complex. Odd, for a guy with movie star looks and who batted cleanup on the team many consider to be the greatest ever.

Posted by at July 13, 2020 12:00 AM