Goldman: The forgiveness of Lou Gehrig (fiction)

From SABR member Steven Goldman at SB Nation on December 23, 2013:

You have to understand what kind of pressure I was under. No kid — and at 23 I was still definitely a kid — should have to be under that kind of stress. The day the Yankees called Jimmie and me to the majors, the club president, Ed Barrow, sits me down and says, “Now look here, young fellow. It is my job to spend Colonel Ruppert’s money, and spend it wisely. I paid $100,000 to the A’s for you and only you. Your partner Reese, being older, cost a lot less.” As if he thought I hadn’t gotten it, he leaned over his desk, all crazy caterpillar eyebrows, jutting jaw, and bulging eyes, and poked a finger into my chest, saying, “You!”

“Yes, sir,” I said. What do you say to that?

“You know how much the Colonel paid Harry Frazee for the Babe? Do you?”

I shook my head from side to side.

“He paid $100,000, the same as I paid for you. You see what I mean?”

I shook my head up and down. I mean, I did see it and I didn’t, but I understood that “yes” was what I was supposed to say.

“Good. Then welcome to the New York Yankees.” He extended his hand. It was gigantic, like a pot roast. I heard later he had been a bare-knuckle boxer in the last century, that he had challenged the Babe to a fight and the Babe, afraid for his life, backed down. I don’t question the Babe’s courage; I would have backed down too. I shook his hand, which had the texture of sandpaper. My own palms were sweating. He didn’t seem to notice. “Someone outside will direct you to the ballpark for your uniform. Good day, Mr. Lary.”

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Originally published: December 23, 2013. Last Updated: December 23, 2013.