clock menu more-arrow no yes mobile

Filed under:

This Day in Yankees History: Lou Gehrig's Second Cycle- August 1, 1937

Hall of Fame first baseman Lou Gehrig put up some truly ridiculous numbers throughout his career. He averaged 39 homers, 39 doubles, and a .350/.459/.659 triple slash per year from 1927-37. I'm not a big proponent of the RBI statistic, but it's pretty ridiculous that he averaged 153 per year in that stretch mostly while batting behind Babe Ruth and Joe DiMaggio, who both often cleared the bases in front of him. '37 was the last truly great year before ALS started to break his body down. He finished fourth in the American League MVP voting, hitting .351/.473/.643 with 37 homers, 37 doubles, and a 177 wRC+. On August 1st of that year, Gehrig had one of the final great games.

The Yankees were cruising to their second straight AL pennant when they met the lowly St. Louis Browns on this August afternoon. The two teams were headed in completely opposite directions, as the Browns were on their way to a last-place, 108-loss season. 16 of the Yankees' 102 wins in '37 came against St. Louis. Yet the Browns won the previous day in 10 innings and actually had a chance to win the series in the decisive third game of the set at Yankee Stadium. Rookie Spud Chandler, who later won the AL MVP in '43, pitched for the Yankees against Lou Koupal, a 38-year-old righthander somehow pitching his first pro season in seven years.

The Yankees got off to a fast start in the first inning when Koupal walked DiMaggio, then gave up a two-run homer to Gehrig, the 448th of his career (second on the all-time list homer list at the time behind Ruth). Chandler gave a run back in the second, but the Yankees then knocked Koupal out of the game in the second inning with a four-run outburst. Relievers Julio Bonetti and Bill Trotter were unable to keep the Yankees in check for the remainder of the game though; they scored eight more runs for a final total of 14. Chandler allowed five runs on 12 hits in a complete game performance that would be hard to classify as "good," but considering his own team's offensive outburst, it did not matter.

Gehrig hit for the cycle that day with a single, a double, and a triple to add to his first inning two-run homer, but unfortunately, there is no account of when in the game these events occurred. The New York Times, the Herald Tribune, and the St. Louis Post-Dispatch all chose to focus instead on DiMaggio's seventh-inning homer, his 31st of the year, which put him ahead of Ruth's '27 single-season record pace. The Times did mention that Gehrig nearly hit a second homer in the ninth, but nothing more of Gehrig's cycle is mentioned. The cycle was the second of Gehrig's career, the first having come on June 25, 1934. It's a shame that the feat was not covered much at all by the newspapers, but the neglect was nothing new for Gehrig, who was used to being overshadowed.

Box score.

Further sources: Tan, Cecilia.The 50 Greatest Yankee Games. Hoboken, NJ: John Wiley & Sons, Inc., 2005.