Sunday, August 16, 1925, Griffith Stadium Washington, DC. A young Lou Gehrig, in his first full season, barrels into home in the 4th inning to score from third on a safety (or suicide?) squeeze off the bat of Benny Bengough, to plate the Yankees’ second run of the afternoon to go up 2-0, as P Vean Gregg’s throw is wide to C Hank Severeid. Umpire Dick Nallin looks on. Gehrig had led off the inning with a double, and was sacrificed to third. Yankees would go on to win the contest by a 3-2 score, with Larrupin’ Lou going 4-5 with a double and HR, only the second 4-hit game of his illustrious career, to raise his average to .322 for the year.
The Senators, not the Yankees, were flying high in 1925, being the reigning World Champions with the Series victory of 1924, and Washington was again in the middle of a successful campaign, although the loss above would drop the Senators 2 full games behind the league leading A’s. Washington would eventually overtake Philadelphia and win their second AL crown in a row, but lose to the Pirates in the 1925 World Series. The Yankees were deep into the second division at this point, but their dominance of the American League would begin in 1926 (thanks in no small part to the emergence of Gehrig), and the Senators wouldn’t get back to the Fall Classic until 1933 (and lost again, never to win another pennant or championship).
NYT article from the game, below. Gehrig was still so young that they still referred to him as “Columbia Lou” or the “Columbia savant” (as in Columbia University in upper Manhattan, just a quick subway ride to the Bronx and the new Yankee Stadium). Either way, he was already a star.
Vean Gregg, the pitcher who allowed the run above, was referred to as the “Old Man” and “ancient southpaw” with good reason. A rookie with the Cleveland Naps in 1911 (with teammates such as Joe Jackson, Nap Lajoie and 44-year old Cy Young), and a key hurler for the 1915 and 1916 Champion Red Sox, he had recurring arm trouble and was out of the game by 1919. Years later, when his farm fell on hard times, he returned to baseball in 1922 in the Pacific Coast League, culminating an impressive comeback by eventually returning to the majors in 1925 with the Senators, at the age of 40, certainly ancient for a ballplayer in those days. Alas, his comeback would be short-lived – appearing in 26 games for Washington, August 16 above would be his last home game, and after 4 more road appearances, was returned to the minors, never to return to the big show – but he was probably one of the few MLB pitchers that pitched to both a young Ty Cobb and a young Lou Gehrig.
C Hank Severeid was an MVP candidate for the St. Louis Browns in 1924, but was relegated to part-time status and then traded to the Nats in 1925, making the postseason for the first time. He would end his career, ironically, as a reserve catcher for the Yankees in 1926, winning his second AL pennant in a row, and when their starting catcher Pat Collins went down, caught all 7 games against the Cardinals in the 1926 World Series. In the final at bat of his career, in Game 7 at Yankee Stadium, he doubled in a run in the 6th inning to pull the Yanks to within 3-2, but the scoring would end there, thanks to Grover Cleveland Alexander’s celebrated relief appearance later in the game (came in to strike out Lazzeri with the bases loaded in the 7th, and got the save when Babe Ruth inexplicably tried to steal second with 2 outs in the bottom of the 9th), and the Yanks would lose the game and the series, and Severeid never got a World Series ring.
And as for Dick Nallin, he was only one of three umpires in MLB history to be behind the plate for two no-hitters in the same month, and they happened to be on back-to-back days (May 5th and 6th, 1917), umpired in two World Series, and was also the home plate umpire for Ty Cobb’s final game/at-bat, a pinch-hit appearance for the Athletics at Yankee Stadium to lead off the 9th inning on Tuesday, September 11, 1928 (he popped to short).
But quite a contrast with the players involved in that play that afternoon; Gregg’s MLB days would end weeks later, and Severeid’s would end the following year, but in slides this young upstart Gehrig, with a long prolific career ahead, who would do no less than help catapult the Yankees into a place among the best franchises ever seen in the grand old game.
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