Friday, June 09, 2006

Two Possible Yankee Urban Myths

#1: Harry Frazee sold Babe Ruth to finance "No, No, Nannette" - Rob Neyer writes about this by way of the Hardball Times:

And finally, a few words about the demonization of Harry Frazee. It's often been written that Frazee sold Ruth in order to finance a Broadway production of a silly musical called No, No, Nanette. It's often been written that Frazee was a failure not only in baseball but also in his theatrical pursuits, and that he died in 1929 a poor man.

As Glenn Stout has ably demonstrated in various places—including in a long 2005 essay in Eysian Fields Quarterly—none of those things written about Frazee are true. Frazee was not in financial trouble when he traded Ruth. He simply thought the Yankees were offering a fair price for a player who'd become a huge headache. Frazee did not use the Yankees' money to finance No, No, Nanette, which wasn't put into production until 1925. Frazee did not die penniless...

#2: Lou Gehrig got the first base job because Wally Pipp sat out with a headache. According to there is no mention of the headache until Gehrig's streak ended. The newspapers at the time seem to say that Huggins was just trying to shake up a bad team. The New York Times wrote:

Miller Huggins took his favorite line-up and shook it to pieces. Wally Pipp, after more than ten years as a regular first baseman, was benched in favor of Lou Gehrig, the former Columbia University fence-wrecker. Aaron Ward, another old standby, surrendered second base to Howard Shanks. Steve O'Neill and Wally Schang perched themselves comfortably on the bench while Benny Bengough donner the mask and protector.

The most radical shakeup of the Yankees line-up in many years left only three regulars of last season in the batting order — Dugan, Ruth and Meusel.

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