Friday, February 25, 2005

 

February 25th, 1941

Babe Dahlgren Sold to Boston Braves

Having done the departure of the man who preceded Lou Gehrig, it only seems fitting to do the departure of the man who followed him, Babe Dahlgren. Dahlgren himself had earlier been displaced by a legend. He was the Boston Red Sox regular first baseman in 1935, but in 1936 the Sox acquired Jimmie Foxx; predictably Dahlgren took a seat, and eventually dropped to the minors.

Before the 1937 season Dahlgren was sold to the Yankees, where he barely played in 1937 and played in a handful of games replacing Gehrig in the later innings and at third base in 1938. By 1939 however, although the Yankees were dominating (they would finish 106-45 and merit inclusion in any discussion about the greatest team of all time) Gehrig was plainly feeling the effects of the ALS that would take his life just two years later. On May 2nd Gehrig was hitting just .143 without an extra base hit and took himself out of the lineup, with Dahlgren to replace him.

Dahlgren doubled and homered in his first game in place of the legend, perhaps giving Yankee fans hope that the drop-off from Gehrig would not be easily seen. It was false hope; Dahlgren was arguably the worst first baseman in the league, hitting just .235/.312/.377, a stark contrast from Gehrig's 1938 when despite probably feeling the beginning of his disease the Iron Horse managed a .295/.410/.523 line. Dahlgren played first base every game for the Yankees the rest of 1939 and all of 1940, and continued to hit poorly. He was sold to the Boston Braves before the 1941 season and was sold again to the Cubs in June of that year. He responded by putting up the best numbers of his career at Wrigley Field, hitting .281/.360/.476 for the
Chicago side.

It proved to be a blip however, and Dahlgren returned to his weak hitting ways in 1942. Dahlgren's career would last through the Second World War, and he finally retired after the 1946 season, having, unlike Wally Pipp, done little to make himself more than a footnote in history, the man who replaced Lou Gehrig.




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