He won two MVP awards and one Triple Crown, and the Iron Horse
set the standard for toughness and durability by playing in a
then record 2,130 consecutive games.
"In the not quite 50 years since his death, Lou Gehrig has
become baseball's Abraham Lincoln, a figure of such mythic
saintliness that his human qualities have been all but lost.
Honest Abe and Larrupin' Lou were a couple of American
primitives, one born in a log cabin, the other in an urban slum,
who rose to greatness through the time-honored virtues of hard
work, sincerity and humility."
--RON FIMRITE SI, Oct. 8, 1990
Baseball's home run (755) and RBI (2,297) king, Hammerin' Hank
was a 24-time All-Star who averaged 33 homers and 100 RBIs for
his 23 major league seasons.
"From the day he first reported to the Braves in the spring of
1954, a scared 20-year-old with less than two seasons of
experience in the lower minors behind him, the entire Milwaukee
organization had been acting strangely like a family which
discovered a uranium mine in its backyard."
--ROY TERRELL SI, Aug. 12, 1957
The Babe began his career as a pitcher and won 20 games twice,
then became a full-time outfielder and slugged 714 home runs; he
was not only the dominant player of his day but also the
dominant personality of an era.
"Everything he did smacked of hyperbole. He ate too much. He
drank too much. He womanized to a fare-thee-well. And when he
hit yet another of his titanic shots, the reporters covering his
games wrote the prose of excess, as if nothing less could do
justice to his swats."
--WILLIAM NACK SI, Aug. 24, 1998
The Say Hey Kid won two MVP awards, played in a record-tying 24
All-Star Games and won 12 straight Gold Gloves; a rare blend of
strength and speed, he was the first player to break the 300
mark in career homers and steals.
"Mays, who broke in with the New York Giants in 1951--DiMaggio's
final season--was exceptional in every way.... Indeed, if it
hadn't been heresy, Mays could have laid claim to DiMaggio's
title [of greatest living ballplayer] while Joe D was still
--GERRY CALLAHAN SI, July 19, 1999
The Splendid Splinter, the last man to hit .400, won two Triple
Crowns and two MVP awards and, despite losing almost five years
to military service, hit 521 home runs, won six batting titles
and had 16 .300-plus seasons.
"The legend of the Kid's eyesight has only grown: He could
follow the seams on a baseball as it rotated toward him at 95
mph. He could read the label on a record as it spun on a
turntable. He stood at home plate one day and noticed that the
angle to first base was slightly off; measuring proved him
right, naturally, by two whole inches."
--S.L. PRICE SI, Nov. 25, 1996
Using only a fastball for most of his career, the Big Train won
20 or more games 12 times, led the league in strikeouts 12
times, notched 416 career wins and a record 110 shutouts and won
two MVP awards.
"Consider the simple eloquence of Yankee Ping Bodie explaining
why he struck out against Walter Johnson: 'You can't hit what
you can't see.'"
--RON FIMRITE SI, June 16, 1975
B/W PHOTO: FRED KAPLAN
COLOR PHOTO: JOHN BRENNEIS
B/W PHOTO: CORBIS/BETTMANN
COLOR PHOTO: BASEBALL HALL OF FAME
COLOR PHOTO: HY PESKIN (WILLIAMS)
B/W PHOTO: CULVER PICTURES (JOHNSON)