Wednesday, May 19, 2010
Jesus Christ vs. Lou Gehrig
As all baseball fans know, in 1925 the first baseman for the New York Yankees, Wally Pipp, complained of a headache and was replaced in the lineup by a young slugger named Lou Gehrig. Wally Pipp never played first for the Yankees again as Lou then played in 2130 consecutive games. It's a great story and a lesson for all who might let a minor headache keep them from work! Yes a great story indeed.
Except it's not true!
The streak actually started the day before when Gehrig had an at bat against the Senators. Also, three total players were benched that day as the manager was trying to shake things up for what was a pretty rotten year for the Yankees. At the time Pipp was hitting about .160 while everyone knew that Gehrig, while young, could hit the ball a mile. As to the headache, there is no mention of it in the writing at that time. The myth only grew later and who knows from where. Myths are like that. We like to embroider stories around our heroes. There's also the problem of the telling and re-telling of a story and everyone knows how this can twist a story in unpredictable ways. The story of Wally Pipp is only 85 years old. Imagine what kind of embroidery has been done on the life of (light hitting but good glove) Jesus H. Christ over the course of 200o years. You'd think that any story coming from so long ago with such grandiose claims would automatically be taken with a huge grain of salt or two. Instead, the stories are taken as beautiful things. Wonderful things. Miraculous things. An organized religion with all the trappings and ceremony has to declare the stories sacred and therefore untouchable. It has to be a sin to question the stories. The stories then move from mere stories to sacred fact. Unfortunately . . .
They're not true!