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Baseball for Egg Heads

Charlie Gehringer

Charlie Gehringer

Gehringer was famously called “The Mechanical Man” because he made everything look so automatic. He led his league in no fewer than eight different offensive categories during his career: batting, hits, runs scored, doubles, triples, stolen bases, plate appearances, and games played.

Among all of the second basemen, Rogers Hornsby was the best pure hitter, Joe Morgan was the most complete offensive package, and Gehringer was probably the best all-around player. He hit for high average, ran the bases well, was a very good fielder (better than Hornsby and Morgan), and had a good arm. The only flaw in Charlie's game was that he didn't hit the longball. But in his era there weren't any second basemen who hit near the top of the order who were expected to hit home runs. Hornsby did it because he hit third or cleanup, but Gehringer was a leadoff or #2 hitter.

Gehringer was one of the few players who was “discovered” by Ty Cobb. When Cobb was player/manager of the Tigers in the early 1920s, he was given a tip about Gehringer, who grew up just west of Detroit. After seeing the young Gehringer play, Cobb insisted that the Tigers sign him to a minor league deal. Two years later he was in the Detroit lineup along with Cobb. Gehringer once told the story of how Cobb urged him to buy stock in General Motors and Coca-Cola. “But none of us had any money,” Gehringer said, “so we couldn't follow his advice.”