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by Harold Friend
At first it seems a little confusing, but there is an explanation. On October 11, 1927, it was announced that Lou Gehrig had been selected to receive the League Award as the American League's most valuable player.
An Outstanding Season
Gehrig batted .373, hit 47 home runs, batted in 175 runs. Only Babe Ruth had ever hit more than 47 home runs in a season. Gehrig had a remarkable .474 on base average, and he slugged .765, with an OPS of 1.024.
Babe Ruth Hit a Record 60 Home Runs
In 1927, Babe Ruth hit 60 home runs, an untainted record that was finally broken by Roger Maris in 1961. The only controversy surrounding Maris' achievement was that it was the first season in which American League teams played 162 games. Roger managed to hit 59 home runs in the Yankees' first 154 games, but he needed the additional eight games to reach 61 home runs.
The League Award Started in 1922
The League Award that Lou Gehrig received was inaugurated in 1922. A committee of baseball writers representing each American League city selected the winner. In the American League, a player could win the award only once, after which he was ineligible to receive it.
George Sisler, the second greatest first baseman in history, won the first award. Babe Ruth won it in 1923, Walter Johnson was the winner in 1924, Roger Peckinpaugh won in 1925, and George Burns won it in 1926.
Lou Gehrig Set a Great Example for the Youth of America
Lou Gehrig was a great athlete who was considered a natural ballplayer. He was more than an adequate defensive player, but it was his ability to hit that ranks him as the best of all first basemen.
When announcing that Gehrig had won the League Award, American League president Ban Johnson praised Lou "as a great example for the youth of today. Gehrig causes umpires no trouble, attends strictly to business, and has always given his club his best efforts."
Lou Gehrig's Triple Crown But No MVP
In 1931, the current version of the MVP award was created. The American League's Lefty Grove and the National League's Frankie Frisch were the winners. Lou Gehrig won it in 1936, but when Lou had his triple crown season in 1934, Detroit Tigers' manager Mickey Cochrane was the winner.
Playing Manager Mickey Cochrane
The pennant-winning Tigers won 101 games as playing manager Cochrane batted .320, with 2 home runs, 76 RBIs, and a .412 slugging average. Gehrig hit .363, with a career high 49 home runs, 165 RBIs, and a .706 slugging average. Cochrane's OPS was .840. Gehrig's was 1.172.
Gehrig Finished Fifth
What is even more amazing is that in his triple crown season, Tigers' second baseman Charlie Gehringer, Yankees' southpaw Lefty Gomez, and Tigers' right-hander Schoolboy Rowe finished ahead of Gehrig.
What is a Most Valuable Player?
It seems that the writers really did consider the most valuable player to be just that. They didn't consider the player who had the best season the most valuable player. Although the Tigers finished seven games ahead of the Yankees in 1934, the combination of his great play and excellent managing skills won the award of Cochrane.
Charlie Gehringer had a great season, batting .356, with 11 home runs and 127 RBIs. Gomez was 26-5, with a league-leading 2.33 ERA, and Schoolboy Rowe, at the age of 24, won 24 games.
Perhaps Lou Gehrig should have won the 1934 MVP since he won the triple crown, but ironically, one of the most difficult achievements in baseball doesn't always result in an MVP award, as Ted Williams discovered.
By The Associated Press.. (1927, October 12). BEST-PLAYER AWARD. GOES TO LOU GEHRIG :Yankee First Baseman Is Voted Most Valuable Performer in American League. GETS 56 POINTS OUT OF 64 Lazzeri Receives Single Vote as Yanks' Best Man. New York Times (1857-Current file),32. Retrieved September 8, 2009, from ProQuest Historical Newspapers The New York Times (1851 - 2006). (Document ID: 117997461).