Lou Gehrig, 184 runs batted in. The American league record.
Hank Greenberg, 183 runs batted in. Second place.
Not so fast, says Herm Krabbenhoft, a member of the Society for American Baseball Research who claims Greenberg was shortchanged and should be tied with Gehrig for the record.
According to this story from the Detroit News website,”Krabbenhoft’s says his research shows against the Philadelphia A’s on June 20, 1937, Rudy York was mistakenly given one of Greenberg’s RBIs, and thus Greenberg’s season total should be amended to 184.”
Back to the article: “He’s spent hours researching Tigers history and has every game story and box score from The Detroit News, Detroit Free Press, The Detroit Times and every major paper from the Tigers opponents from 1931-46, which he says, proves his case.” Much as we would love to have Greenberg an additional kudo, let’s be fair: the argument that possessing all that info doesn’t prove the case under consideration; shouldn’t that story from that one game be sufficient?
The “dark” part comes here:
Krabbenhoft presented his findings to the Elias Sports Bureau, the official statistician for Major League Baseball, but thinks Elias hasn’t amended the record because Gehrig is an icon.
“They do not want changes, especially in significant records involving icons,” Krabbenhoft said. “Getting things changed by Elias is difficult.”
Steve Hirdt of the Elias Sports Bureau:
“Herm’s evidence by some of the newspapers, while it suggests an error might have been made, and it looks like something may be fishy there [emphasis added], the key play involves a case where there was a runner on base and Greenberg hit a ground ball and at the end of the play someone had made an error and the run scored. However, I’ve not seen a play-by-play that indicates if the runner started the play on third base or second base.”
I’m kind of surprised it would be that hard to discern that missing piece of information, even if games back then were not televised and no audio/visual record is available.
When Greenberg was hot on the heels of Babe Ruth’s single season home run record of 60, more than a few Jewish fans suggested that opponents were pitching around him, not wanting a Jew to get the honor. (Greenberg subsequently pooh-poohed such notions). So is this another accusation? When Hirdt says “something fishy,” is that code for anti-Semitism on the part of the official scorer?
You can really get paranoid with this stuff.
By the way, the Yankees were interested in signing Greenberg, a local product, as a teenager, but he demurred because Gehrig was already a fixture at first base.
Thanks to KK chaver Ari for the tip.