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Charlie Gehringer

Position: Second Baseman
Teams: Detroit Tigers, 1924-1942

Never flamboyant and the possessor of an almost Sphinx-like demeanor, Charlie Gehringer might have gone virtually unnoticed on the baseball diamond but for one remarkable quality. He gave the same quietly outstanding performance day in and day out.

Gehringer’s unceasing excellence led to his being nicknamed “The Mechanical Man.” Mickey Cochrane, after managing Charlie for two years in Detroit, said of him, “He says hello on opening day and goodbye on closing day, and in between he hits .350.”

Gehringer holds the all-time record for most doubles in a seaon by a second baseman -- 60 in 1936.
Gehringer holds the all-time record for
most doubles in a seaon by a second
baseman -- 60 in 1936.

Charles Leonard Gehringer (1903-1993) was raised about 60 miles north of Detroit in the small farming town of Fowlerville. After starring as an athlete in high school, he played both football and baseball for one year at the University of Michigan and then decided his future lay in pro baseball. On the recommendation of former Tiger Bobby Veach, Geh­ringer was given a tryout by the great Ty Cobb, then the Detroit player-manager.

Signed by the Tigers in 1924 as a third baseman, Gehringer was soon moved to second base and became the club’s regular there in 1926. For the next 16 years Charlie broke the hearts of all the other keystone aspirants in the Detroit organization. After hitting .277 as a rookie, he batted over .300 every other season but one until he began to fade in 1941.

Gehringer’s high-water mark came in 1937, when he batted .371 to win the AL hit crown. At age 34, he was the oldest first-time winner of a batting title in history. Before 1937, Gehringer had also paced the junior loop on several occasions in runs, hits, doubles, triples, and stolen bases. His play in all departments was of such high caliber that he was chosen for the first All-Star Game in 1933.

Gehringer played in six All-Star games altogether and hit a combined .500 with 10 hits in 20 at bats. He displayed the same steady brilliance in his three World Series appearances with the Tigers. In 81 at bats, Charlie hit .321, one point higher than his overall career batting mark of .320.

Reduced to a utility role by 1942, Gehringer retired at the end of the season even though he still had enough of his old batting skill left to lead the AL in pinch hits. Following three years in the Navy during World War II, Gehringer worked for an auto dealer in Detroit. Two years after he was elected to the Hall in 1949, Charlie returned to the Tigers as general manager. He also served as a vice president until 1959.

Here are Charlie Gehringer's major league totals:


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