On this day in 1931, New York Yankees legend Lou Gehrig homered. Only thing was, even though the ball went over the fence and time was not called, he still did not get that home run.
The 1931 season was one of the best in New York Yankees legend Lou Gehrig’s career. He posted an excellent .341/.446/.662 batting line, and led the American League in runs, hits, homers, and RBI. His 185 RBI are not only the most in the history of the AL, but also the most by any left handed hitter in a single season.
Yet, as impressive as his performance in 1931 had been, his numbers could have been even better. It was on this day that Gehrig hit a home run that did not count, even though nothing had interfered with the action on the field.
The scenario began innocently enough. The Yankees were facing the Washington Senators at Griffith Stadium, with Firpo Marberry, one of the first great relievers in the game, getting the rare start. With one out in the top of the first, New York shortstop Lyn Lary drew a walk, and after Dusty Cooke struck out, Gehrig came to bat.
Gehrig, as he was wont to do, crushed Marberry’s offering, sending it to deep center for what seemed to be a two run homer. In fact, he hit the ball so hard, that it hit a wall and bounced back to center fielder Harry Rice.
That was where everything went awry. Lary saw Rice with the ball, and assumed that he caught Gehrig’s impressive drive. As such, he headed back to the dugout, thinking that it was the third out of the inning, without touching home. Gehrig, meanwhile, was running with his head down, and did not see Lary leave the field. He touched home, thinking he had another homer, but was ruled out for passing Lary on the basepaths.
As such, Gehrig was given credit for a triple, and lost his home run and two RBI. He still led the league in runs batted in, but that homer left him in a tie with Babe Ruth instead of winning the crown outright.
When is a home run not a home run? Well, in the case of New York Yankees slugger Lou Gehrig, that happened when he hit the ball so hard, it came back to the field of play.