A Grand Slam: Connected through Lou

Pregent_90.jpgBy 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.

03-21-11-Pregent_RipkenGehrig.jpgGehrig 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.

03-21-11-Pregent_Gehrig.jpgIt’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.

3 Comments

Whether Gehrig’s grand slam record falls to Ramirez or Rodriguez, or not, his accomplishments in no way will be diminished. Lou Gehrig was the type of ballplayer and man whose accomplishments and character transcend time.

Dear Ryan –

Thank you for your post on Lou Gehrig. Part of me hopes that Lou’s record won’t be broken –at least by those two players. Manny Ramirez and A-Rod may have good stats, but their self-absorbed diva behavior makes make cringe –especially when compared to one of the most honorable men in the game. Lou has had a tremendous impact on my life (ask Craig Muder about this! We had corresponded regarding one of the Gehrig exhibits and a couple of essays that I had written.)

Anyway, Thank you for speaking about the grand slam records and sharing your interest and passion for Mr. Gehrig. What a tremendous player and a tremendous man.

B. Mendoza

Lou Gehrig has always been my favorite player of all time as well.The way that he bravely faced his death has always impressed me greatly.Even when he knew that there was little chance for survival he used he connections with the Mayo Clinic to help other people(usually with minor problems-like his wife Eleanor`s skin rash).I hope he keeps his grand slam record.Let`s see some of those over paid babies try to break his record of 5 seasons with over 400 total bases!

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