Will Yankees Greg Bird be more Moose Skowron or Nick Johnson?

Greg Bird (Photo by Al Bello/Getty Images)
Greg Bird (Photo by Al Bello/Getty Images) /
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(Photo by Ezra Shaw/Getty Images) /

Giant Shoulders

Gehrig is clearly not in competition with the other men on this list. His only peers are the immortals. For those of you who might go back and check the records, note that the gods have decreed that no man can find immortality inside a syringe.

Lou is third all-time in RBI’s; Hank Aaron is second, and Ruth is first. He is third all-time in slugging, behind Ruth in second and Ted Williams in first. Gehrig’s OBP is the fourth highest in history (Teddy Ballgame is the all-time leader).

The numbers keep adding up. He is seventh all-time in BA (Cobb), eleventh in runs scored (Rickey Henderson), thirteenth in average, sixteenth in walks, and 28th in home runs (Aaron).

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And his WAR (prepare yourself) is 112.4. You can compare that to the other Yankees first baseman, but you’re better off looking at the names above his. There aren’t many, as Lou’s is fifteenth all-time, and the list ends with another Yankees player: Babe Ruth, 183.7.

Once upon a Yankees fairy tale come true, these two men batted three and four and created the team’s still used the nickname, the Bronx Bombers.

More to his Story

But even with Lou, the numbers could never tell the full story of this man. If Ruth had Panache, and Dimaggio had Grace, then Gehrig had Dignity. I am working on a piece called, The Lost Years of Yankees Legends, including Dimaggio, Munson, and Mattingly. I shall return to Mr. Gehrig then.

Lou’s numbers remove most opinions, though, leaving only facts. But I will start with one exception: it might be just my opinion that the Iron Horse is a top-five player all-time. That is, perhaps, an argument to be had.

However, I feel so strongly about this, that, to the last I would grapple with thee. From Hell’s heart I would stab at thee, and, for the sake of Yankees fans and baseball historians everywhere in time, I would spit my last breath at thee to win that argument.

But it is not opinion that Lou is the greatest first baseman who has ever manned the bag; his numbers make a fact of the assertion. And as that includes both Yankees and Highlanders, the fact is that Lou Gehrig is the greatest first baseman ever to don the pinstripes.

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No one expects Greg Bird to be Lou Gehrig. I have a hard time believing anyone was ever Lou Gehrig. But with his power and eye, the hope is he can be somewhere between Moose and Donnie Baseball. Just as long as he does not turn out to be Nick Johnson; that’s a history I hope never repeats itself.

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But even if his career ended tomorrow, his place in the fascinating line of Yankee’s first basemen would be debated, by fools and philosophers.

And honky-tonk heroes, like me.

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