October 27, 2011
A big thrill was having lunch with baseball immortal Charlie Gehringer
By FRANK BARNING
In the nearly 15 years we published Baseball Hobby News, Vivian and I had the opportunity to meet hundreds of players, including dozens of Hall of Famers.
One of my absolute biggest thrills was created by Carol and Lloyd Toerpe who promoted shows for many years in Plymouth, Mich. A year or so after George Kell's 1979 appearance mentioned in our previous story, Charley Gehringer was hired to sign autographs at their show. They arranged a luncheon for Gehringer and a small group of friends. I was invited and the memories still give me chills.
Considered by many as the greatest second baseman of all time, he had a .320 lifetime batting average with 2,839 hits. The Detroit Tigers' immortal told stories of having been scouted by Ty Cobb and playing with and for the Georgia Peach. Cobb was the player/manager of the team for six seasons, 1921-26.
To this baseball junkie, having lunch with Gehringer, who passed away in 1993 at age 89, was a magical experience. A mild mannered gentleman, he was in his late 70s at the time of the luncheon and still sharp as a tack. One of the questions I asked was "How do you pronounce your last name?" I had heard it pronounced two ways, Geh-rin-jurr (rhymes with purr) and Geh-ringer (as in bell ringer), which is the correct way.
His is one of the most distinctive of all baseball Hall of Famer autographs. He always signed an easy-to-read "Chas. Gehringer". An example can be seen at the top of this page. He had been elected to the Hall in 1949.
According to Cobb, "He'd say hello at the start of spring training and goodbye at the end of the season and the rest of the time he let his bat and glove do all the talking for him."
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If you would like to learn more about Charlie Gehringer, who was born in 1903, do a Google search. There is a wealth of information about this baseball legend.