Keeping with this morning’s historical theme, we turn to Derek Jeter’s imminent eclipsing of Lou Gehrig’s Yankees hit record (he was 0-4 yesterday). A great record to be sure, currently held by a great man. So great, in fact, that as is often the case, people seem to want to make him greater than maybe he really was. Some interesting accuracy from a guy who literally wrote the book on Gehrig:
He was not universally beloved. Some reporters found him dull. Children
in the Bronx complained that he would sneak in and out of Yankee Stadium
to avoid signing autographs. He almost never picked up a dinner tab or
tipped a delivery boy. Even some of his teammates thought he could have
been friendlier. (He invited only one Yankee, Bill Dickey, to his wedding) . . .
. . . Some of the writers suggested that Gehrig was such a stoic that he did
not care about records. Whenever Gehrig approached or set a record,
reporters pounding at their portable typewriters made it sound as if
the shy slugger was unaware or unconcerned with the feat. When Gehrig and Babe Ruth battled in 1927 for the single-season home
run record, the writers described it as a friendly contest. But Gehrig took those things seriously, especially when Ruth was involved.
The author of the piece isn’t slamming Gehrig. He’s just showing that he was human as opposed to the selflessly stoic and godlike figure he’s so frequently made out to be.
Which, in my mind, makes him more interesting and no less great. I’ve always thought the same thing applied to Derek Jeter too.
(Thanks to YankeeFan Len for the link)