The Iron HorseĀ and The Great Bambino

The Iron HorseĀ and The Great Bambino

March 08, 2022

The 1930 New York Yankees Crush the Cleveland Indians 17–2

Ask anyone who is not a baseball fan to name any baseball players, chances are they’ll mention Babe Ruth and Lou Gehrig. They might even know their nicknames (“The Great Bambino”, the “Sultan of Swat”, and “The Iron Horse”, respectively) without ever having seen them play.

There’s a reason that Babe Ruth and Lou Gehrig are so famous. After all, you don’t get the nickname “The Iron Horse” for nothing. In the heart of his career, Gehrig played 2,130 games in a row without missing a single one, a record that stood for 56 years. And he probably would have played many more (and still held the record to this day), had he not been forced to retire at that young age. Gehrig was also an All-Star seven consecutive times, won the Triple Crown (leading the major leagues in batting average, home runs, and runs batted in), was the American League Most Valuable Player twice, and was a member of six World Series-winning teams.

Gehrig’s career numbers in just about every hitting statistic are otherworldly. He had a career batting average of .340, a number that would make you an All-Star if you achieved it just once, let alone over a whole career. And he combined that with 493 home runs, 1,995 RBIs, a .632 slugging percentage, and a .447 on-base average, all in a career that was cut short. To this day, Gehrig has the highest level of runs scored plus runs batted in per 100 plate appearances and per 100 games out of anyone in the Hall of Fame. He also held the record for most career grand slams for almost a century before it was broken.

George Herman “Babe” Ruth was even more famous, if you can imagine that. The consensus single greatest player to ever play the game, Ruth is not only the undisputed king of baseball, he’s the single biggest influence on the modern game. Prior to Ruth’s career exploits, baseball was generally played like a chess match on grass and dirt. Batters would try to get on base, and then advance incrementally through sacrifice flies, bunts, walks, and ground balls, until a run was squeezed out. The home run was regarded as a novelty rather than a strategy by most managers. Babe Ruth changed all that. His power was so notable that he made power-hitting a legitimate strategy that has remained an important (and crowd-pleasing) part of the game to this day. On a statistical level, Ruth won baseball’s home-run crown 12 times, (including one time as a pitcher), and was the first player to get 20, 30, 40, 50, and eventually 60 home runs in one season. And he wasn’t just a swing-for-the-fences hitter, he was consistent as well, holding a career .342 batting average with a .690 slugging percentage. He also hit a record 714 career home runs, 2,873 hits, 506 doubles, scored 2,174 runs, hit 2,214 RBI, and had a .474 on-base percentage to go with his 12 home run titles, six RBI titles, and seven World Series Championships. And that was just his hitting. In a feat unheard of in today’s game, he was also one of the sport’s best pitchers prior to emerging as its greatest hitter, having held the record for highest winning percentage by a left-handed pitcher.

But Ruth’s influence extended beyond the field. He was arguably the sports world’s first celebrity athlete. His fame paved the way for modern sports celebrities, and created the model for the adulation and tycoon-level compensation of today’s world sports stars.

Both Gehrig and Ruth were part of the New York Yankees’ famous “Murderer’s Row” lineup, which featured a whole cadre of future Hall of Famers who were so feared that no pitcher wanted to face any one of them, let alone the whole lot. Whether they were in first place or fourth, they were the team no one wanted to face.

Generally speaking, baseball is a famously slow and low-scoring game. Runs are hard to come by, and games are often won by the smallest of margins. In fact, 3–2 is the most common score in baseball history. But the Yankees of the late 1920s and early 1930s were no common team. In one contest in particular, on June 15th, 1930, the Yankees gave the Cleveland Indians a beatdown so comprehensive, it more closely resembled a football score. In that game, the Yankees scored 17 runs against a hapless Indians team. Still fresh from their wounds two days earlier, the Indians entered League Park in Cleveland hoping for a better result. But the 1930 Yankees were once again far too much for the mortal Indians, and the Yankees scored 17 runs for a second straight game, winning 17–2, with Gehrig going four-for-six with four RBIs, and three runs scored, and Ruth adding a hit, two walks, and two runs of his own. In addition, future Hall of Famer Earle Combs went four-for-five, scoring four runs, and batting in another.

Remarkably, however, while the Yankees were already up 10–2 in the fifth inning, they had yet to hit a home run when Lou Gehrig came to the plate with two outs and two men on base. The crowd watched with rapt attention as the “Iron Horse” stepped up to face Ken Holloway on the mound. Staring down Holloway, Gehrig smashed a home run over the right field wall that would be the only home run of the game. Fortunately for today’s sports fans, four-year-old Tyler Spare and his grandfather G. Taylor Wright were in the right field stands that day to watch the action. And as the Gehrig home run ball sailed over the right field fence, the nimble grandpa caught the ball and gave it to Tyler. But their day at the park watching one of the greatest teams in history was far from over. After the game ended, they waited outside the locker room doors, and eventually got the ball signed not only by home run hitter Gehrig himself, but also by Babe Ruth, Earle Combs, and additional future Hall of Famers Joe Sewell and Herb Pennock, among others. The ball represents Gehrig’s 18th home run of that 1930 season, and the 164th of his Hall of Fame career. The ball also bears the date of the game, along with the score, which Wright had written on the ball.

Surviving home-run balls from this era are exceedingly rare. And ones hit by “The Iron Horse” himself, with verified provenance, can be counted on one hand. The addition of the verified signatures of Gehrig, Ruth, and a host of other Hall of Famers makes this historically-significant, museum-quality asset truly unique. The ball is accompanied by a full PSA/DNA Letter of Authenticity and a JSA Letter of Authenticity. It is also accompanied by an additional letter from Cindy Wright, the daughter of Tyler Spare and great-granddaughter of G. Taylor Wright, Cindy Moyer, telling the story of that very special day.

RareMint is issuing a highly limited NFT collection based on this uniquely memorable home run, and the historic Yankee team. One single “Ultra Rare” NFT shot in a 12k capture, depicting every detail in 3D will be issued, conferring ownership of the one-of-a-kind signed home run ball to its holder. In addition, there will be “Limited Edition” commemorative NFTs available based on this iconic collectible. This is a chance to own your own piece of baseball history, and the enduring legacy of Lou Gehrig, Babe Ruth, Earle Combs, and the powerhouse New York Yankees team of the early 1930s.

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