Summer of 1927
“It isn’t a race in the American League, it’s a landside.”
-- John Kieran, New York Time
July would be the best of all months for the Yankees. They would win 24 of 31 games and stitch together their longest winning streak of the season, nine games, from June 13th through July 23rd.
In first place where they had been all season, flying, unstoppable, cocksure, determined and proud of what they were accomplishing, they played on.
And Gehrig and Ruth especially played on. Ruth played off Gehrig, and Gehrig played off Ruth. They both gave opposing pitchers fits and the fans delight. The pennant race was over. It had actually been over before it began.
But the “Home Run Derby” was in full throttle, mesmerizing more and more baseball fans day after day. Gehrig and Ruth, Ruth and Gehrig. Neither man could gain significant separation from the other as they took those mighty swings that baseball summer. And what separation there was, was never more than two home runs.
On the first day of July, the Yankees faced the hapless Red Sox. The Buster and the Babe were tied with 25 home runs each. Gehrig slammed a home run to pace the 7-4 Yankee win, the 13th straight defeat for Boston. That game was a marker moment for the “Bammer” – the first time since 1922 that he trailed a rival on that date in the home run race.
“There’s only one man who will ever have a chance of breaking my record, and that’s Gehrig. He is a great kid,” the King of Clubbers said.
Whenever Ruth hammered a homer, Gehrig waited at home plate to shake his hand as he rounded third and touched home plate. If Gehrig homered with Ruth on base, the two would trot around the bases. The Babe waited for Lou to touch home. Then the happy pair like two school kids, smiling all the way, would enter the Yankee dugout to the cheers of their adoring fans, to the congratulations of their teammates.
The younger Gehrig said: "There will never be another guy like the Babe. I get more of a kick out of seeing him hit one than I do from hitting one myself."
The older Ruth said: “Gehrig is one of the greatest fellows in the game and a real home run hitter.”
And the self effacing Iron Horse said: "I'm just fortunate enough to be close to him."