First there was Neil Young’s “ditch trilogy.” Now we have Chris Jaffe’s “morbid trilogy.”
First, he looked at who lived the longest time after playing in a World Series. Then he looked at the last surviving men to have played for some important managers. Now he’s looking at who were the last surviving teammates of some of the game’s all-time greats:
The most recent all-time great to have no living teammates is the Iron Horse, Lou Gehrig. The disease that killed him forced him to retire in 1939. An outfielder for that club was Tommy Henrich, who died on Dec. 1, 2009. He was the last Yankee left who heard Gehrig say that he considered himself the luckiest man on the face of the earth. The day Gehrig gave his famous speech, Henrich appeared as a pinch-hitter for the Yankees and made an out.
Beyond that factoid there are all kinds of neat ones that make one realize (a) how long baseball has been played; and (b) how long a human life is, even if we all tend to blow off things that happen in our day-to-day existence with phrases like “life’s too short to …”
For a few days, it looked like Aaron Judge was finally hitting his stride in the postseason. He was still striking out at a regular clip, piling more and more strikeouts atop the 16 he racked up in the Division Series, but he was mashing, too. He engineered a three-run homer during Game 3 of the Championship Series, followed by another blast and game-tying double in Game 4. His one-out double helped pad a five-run lead in Game 5, while his 425-footer off of Brad Peacock barely made a dent during a 7-1 loss in Game 6. And then Lance McCullers‘ curveball found and fooled him, as it did five of the 14 batters it met in Game 7:
The strikeout was Judge’s first of the evening and 27th since the start of the playoffs. No other major league batter has racked up that many strikeouts in a single postseason, though Alfonso Soriano’s 26-strikeout record in 2003 comes the closest. Within that record, Judge also collected three golden sombreros (four strikeouts in a single game), narrowly avoiding the dreaded platinum sombrero (five strikeouts in a single game).
It’s an unfortunate footnote to a spectacular year for the rookie outfielder, who decimated the competition with 52 home runs and 8.2 fWAR during the regular season and was a pivotal part of the Yankees’ playoff run. Thankfully, the image of McCullers’ curveball darting just under Judge’s bat won’t be the image that sticks with us for years to come. Instead, it’ll look something like this: