Wednesday, December 4, 2013

Many more Michigan Men part 7: Charlie Gehringer and George Sisler

Previously: Part 1 (Chris Sabo)Part 2 (Kelly Dransfeldt, Scott Kamieniecki, Heath Murray, and Geoff Zahn)Part 3 (Mike Matheny)Part 4 (Steve Ontiveros)Part 5 (Drew Henson), Part 6 (Hal Morris)

A month or two ago I embarked upon a project of scanning all of the cards in my collection of any other Michigan Baseball alumni not already included on my Player Collections page. That includes anything that arrived via trade, was already in my collection otherwise, or was part of a complete set (or set in-progress). As you can imagine it took quite a while to get everything done, but about 250+ cards later, I finally have something to show for it! These posts will show off new player collections or new cards for existing PCs. Some players will join the group that I supercollect and others will be guys I just pick up whenever I can. If you have anything I don't and feel like trading, please let me know as I'd love to build up these collections!

I've got a double-header for you today, and as it turns out, it's a Hall of Fame double-header!  While getting ready to write up this post, which was originally going to cover just George Sisler, I thought about fellow pre-WWII star Charlie Gehringer, and though I didn't expect to find much of him in my PC, I took a quick look anyway.  I was pleasantly surprised to come up with a trio of Gehringers and decided to include those today as well.

Fowlerville, Michigan native Charlie Gehringer was born 110 years ago and made his way to UM in 1922, but was discovered by a Tigers player the following year and earned a tryout in front of Detroit legend and player/manager Ty Cobb, who was immediately impressed by the young second-baseman.  The "Mechanical Man" ("You wind him up Opening Day and forget him" said teammate Doc Cramer) was a Tiger for all 19 of his Major League seasons, forming a legendary double-play combo with SS Billy Rogell, rivaled by the Whitaker-Trammell duo modern fans know so well.  A very reliable and durable fielder, he hit .320 for his career with 2839 hits, was a six-time All-Star and the 1937 AL MVP, and won a ring with the '35 Tigers (LOL Cubs) to go with AL pennants in '34 and '40.  After his playing career, he served in the Navy from '43-'45, then acted as GM and vice-president of his former team for several years in the 1950s.  He landed in the Hall of Fame in 1949 and compares very well to another enshrined 2B, Roberto Alomar.  The Tigers retired his number 2, and he also has a statue out beyond left-center field:

Here's my tiny (but soon-to-grow!) collection of Gehringers:

Gehringer's fellow Wolverine alum George Sisler was born 120 years ago near Akron, Ohio.  He played at Michigan from 1913-1915 and actually finished up a mechanical engineering degree.  Oh yeah, and his coach there was some guy named Branch Rickey.  Sisler then went on to a 15-year MLB career that included a .340 lifetime average and 2812 hits, plus the 1922 AL MVP with St. Louis, a season in which he led the league with a .420 average (which, just to emphasize, is a FOUR TWENTY AVERAGE), one of two seasons in which he eclipsed the .400 mark.  That year he also ran up a 41-game hitting streak, since broken (of course!).  A somewhat well-rounded first baseman, he also tacked on 102 HR and 375 steals to his career stats, although the number for which he was most famous was 257--the single-season hits record that stood until 2004 when Ichiro broke it.  George played for the St. Louis Browns (twice), Washington Senators, and Boston Braves, while also managing the Browns from '24-'26.  Sisler had to wait until his fourth attempt to enter the Hall, but the competition was, shall we say, stiff?  Have a look, friends--he managed to place 11th in 1936, the year of the original class (Cobb, Wagner, Ruth, Matthewson, and Walter Johnson), but led all vote-getters in 1939.  And that '36 list is just INSANE!Here's my small Sisler collection, which also includes three "hits":  a manu-letter, manu-logo, and manu-bat barrel:

Well, seven posts in and I STILL have a pair of guys left to show off!  Watch for those soon....

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