A Grand Slam: Connected through Lou
By Ryan Pregent
Lou Gehrig has been my favorite baseball player since I can remember the game. He was my dad’s favorite player, so he became my favorite player. When I became more knowledgeable on the game and its history, Gehrig only became a bigger hero of mine.
Gehrig is one of baseball’s great tragic stories. He is a role model for all in any walk of life. Everyone knows about how he went to work for 2,130 straight games. He played through aches pains and broken bones. One of my most vivid baseball memories growing up was watching Cal Ripken Jr. break Gehrig consecutive games streaks. As my dad and I watched, it was a bittersweet moment for me. I watched a great player accomplish a feat that may never be achieved again, but Gehrig was no longer baseball’s Iron Man.
Lou still has one career record, though, that most probably don’t realize. Gehrig hit 23 grand slams – the most in a single career. Everyone knows the all-time leaders in hits, home runs and steals, but the grand slam record isn’t paid much attention.
It’s an amazing record to hold after all these years. Some may argue that grand slam depends too much on circumstance. When talking about a player being clutch, there probably is no better statistic than grand slams. The player is delivering at the most efficient and opportune time, giving their team the maximum production with four runs. The grand slam is a game changer, whether ahead or behind, it shows performance when needed most. Twenty-three over a career is remarkable, not to mention a career shortened by the disease that now bares Gehrig’s name.
Like his consecutive game streak, Lou’s grand slam record could be broken. Both Manny Ramirez and Alex Rodriguez have 21 career grand slams. But whether he holds any records or not, my dad and I will always call Gehrig our favorite player.
Thanks to Lou, baseball has connected us. One of the great things about working here at the Hall of Fame is the third part of our mission to connect generations. My hope is when families come to our new One for the Books exhibit, which opens Memorial Day Weekend in Cooperstown, they find a player or record that helps them connect.
Ryan Pregent is a membership associate at the National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum.