Today will be the second installment of Tigers by the Numbers, where I will profile a current or former player that wore each uniform number. If you missed the first edition, my profile on uniform number one, Lou Whitaker, can be found here.
Today we will look at number two. Charlie Gehringer shared many similarities with Whitaker; they both played second base, they both hit left handed, and they both earned their way onto this list. Without further ado….
#2- Charlie Gehringer played second base for the Detroit Tigers from 1924 through 1942.
Born in Fowlerville, Michigan, Gehringer had been playing on his town’s team that played at the local fairgrounds when a hunting buddy of former Tigers’ outfielder Bobby Veach spotted him. The friend encouraged Veach to talk to his former club about signing the youngster.
Although he played in just 13 games combined in 1924 and 1925, By 1926, Gehringer was a fixture at second base for manager Ty Cobb’s Tigers.
Starting with the 1927 season, Gehringer would post batting averages of better than .330 13 times over the next 14 years. The lone exception came in 1932, when Gehringer by his own admission began swinging for the fences too often. He finished that season with an average of .298, but he did hit 19 home runs, one off his career best.
Gehringer was known for his quiet, often reserved demeanor. Mickey Cochrane, who managed Gehringer’s Tigers to the 1935 World Championship said of him: “He says ‘Hello’ on opening day and ‘Goodbye’ on closing day. In between he hits .350.”
A member of the American League squad for baseball’s first ever all-star game, Gehringer went 0-3 in that 1933 game, but he would be an all-star for each of the first six games in total and finish his all-star career at .500 (10-20).
Gehringer had seven season where he drove in better than 100 runs. He lead the league in stolen bases and triple in 1929. He also bested the AL in doubles twice, 1929 and 1936, and runs scored twice, 1929 and 1934.
Gehringer posted seasons of more than 200 hits seven times. Another former manager, Del Baker once said of him, “I honestly believe Charlie could spot a pitcher two strikes all season, and still hit within 15 points of his regular average.”
Finishing in the top-ten in MVP voting eight times, Gehringer won the award in 1937. That same year he took home his first and only batting title, hitting a career best .371.
Over his 19 year career, Gehringer finished with 2839 hits, 1774 runs, 146 triples, and 1427 RBI. His career line of .320/.404/.480 shows the dual threat at the plate he was. In addition to his extra-base prowess, Gehringer added 1186 walks over his career versus just 372 strikeouts.
On the all-time Tigers list, Gehringer ranks third in hits, second in doubles, third in triples, and third in walks. He also ranks third in total bases and fourth in RBI.
Charlie Gehringer was inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame in 1949, his number two was officially retired by the Tigers on June 12, 1983.