Baseball Greats: Gehrig vs. Pujols

Lou Gehrig vs Albert PujolsBaseball has seen its share of dominant first basemen, and you can buy baseball cards for almost every one. First base has evolved into the position many sluggers play because it’s the least demanding defensive position. Think of David Ortiz, Cecil (or Prince) Fielder and Miguel Cabrera. These players aren’t sleek athletes; they’re powerfully built men who can hit a baseball a long way.

It’s no wonder that there are 19 Hall of Fame first basemen. From Cap Anson (first game, 1876) to Eddie Murray (last game, 1997), first basemen have dominated the game for more than a century. There are more than these 19 greats, of course, including:

  • Dick Allen
  • Jeff Bagwell
  • Todd Helton (not yet eligible)
  • Keith Hernandez
  • Mark McGwire
  • John Olerud
  • Rafael Palmeiro
  • Jim Thome (not yet eligible)

Who’s the Greatest?

Of the 19 Hall of Famers, the Iron Horse Lou Gehrig leads in on-base percentage (.447), slugging percentage (.632) and RBIs (1,995). He’s only two points behind batting average leader Dan Brouthers (.342 to .340). He’s fifth in home runs, too. His team, the New York Yankees, won more pennants and World Series than any other, thanks in part to his efforts.

These are impressive numbers for anyone to have put up over 17 seasons. They are Hall of Fame numbers, no matter what position Gehrig played, and he played against stiff competition, such as Jimmie Foxx, Joe Judge, Johnny Mize and Bill Terry, many in the Hall of Fame too. Regardless, one sports publication named Lou Gehrig the greatest first baseman in Major League history.

Imagine what more he could have accomplished if his career hadn’t been cut tragically short. He was just 36 when his career ended as a result of amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, a nervous system disorder now more commonly referred to as ALS or Lou Gehrig’s Disease. Many players today are still in their primes at age 36. You already know this if you buy baseball cards of current players.

Modern Competition

Compared to the accomplishments of the 19 Hall of Fame first basemen, Albert Pujols has shown he belongs. If he stopped playing today, at the end of July 2017, Pujols would join this elite group with the most home runs — 605. He’s already surpassed the former high: Harmon Killebrew’s 573. Only eight other players in the history of the sport have hit more. Period.

Pujols is still playing at age 37 and is signed through the 2021 season, when he’ll be 41 years old. So, he’s sure to add to his home run total. Buy baseball cards of his present and future seasons to check his up-to-date numbers. He’s not just a one-trick pony, either. He compares favorably to other Hall of Fame first basemen:

  • His .306 batting average is like Jake Beckley’s .308.
  • His .565 slugging percentage resembles Johnny Mize’s .562.
  • His .388 on-base percentage is nearly as good as Frank Chance’s .394.
  • His 108 stolen bases compare to Eddie Murray’s 110.
  • His 1,876 RBIs, already 12th on the all-time list, looks like Cap Anson’s 1,879.

In fact, Albert Pujols seems to be a shoe-in for Hall of Fame voting after he retires. With luck, he’ll pass Ken Griffey, Jr. and even Willie Mays in career home runs.

In Comparison

Like other baseball player comparisons appearing in this blog, it’s difficult to name one player over another:

When you buy baseball cards, the most valuable aren’t always of the greatest players. The oldest and rarest cards win that competition. Looking at pure statistics and history, however, it may always seem that no one will ever match Lou Gehrig and his impact on the game. Albert Pujols has had a Hall of Fame career so far, no doubt, but Gehrig redefined excellence and reliability.

Highest Priced Championship Rings of 2016

With the sports card industry flooding the market every year with its products, you can turn to vintage cards for solid investments. It also makes sense to diversify your collection. One viable option is to buy sports memorabilia, which adds depth to your collection.

It’s a burgeoning market. When you buy sports memorabilia, you’ll find the same joy as in sports card collecting. Memorabilia is also better for displaying — whether you collect game jerseys, autographed balls or championship rings. To get you started, here is a comparison of the four championship rings from the 2016 champs of each the four major American sports:

Basketball: Cleveland Cavaliers

These 6.5-carat championship rings are bigger than any other NBA championship ring. Using white and yellow gold, the ring features more than 400 diamonds, including a one-carat gem on the ring’s face. Each side contains 23 small diamonds, symbolizing the 46 years of the Cavalier franchise.

The top of the ring uses 216 diamonds, which is the Cleveland area code. Yellow gold surrounds the diamond-studded words “World Champions.” Each player’s name and uniform number are embossed on the side of the ring. These rings cost about $13,500 to create, so if you buy sports memorabilia, you can expect to pay much more to acquire an authentic one.

Hockey: Pittsburgh Penguins

The centerpiece of this ring is the black onyx Penguin logo with a 0.5 carat diamond in his navel. Yellow gold frames 18 yellow diamonds that make up the rest of the logo. 15 normal diamonds fill in the ring’s face. More diamonds cascade toward the sides, where yellow gold letters proclaim: “Stanley Cup Champions.”

One side of the ring shows four diamond-encrusted Stanley Cups, while the other side shows the player’s name with his diamond-filled uniform number. All told, the ring uses 309 diamonds and weighs 8.85 carats (104 grams), or more than 10 times the size of a normal class ring. The rings, as presented to players, are estimated to cost about $25,000.

Football: Denver Broncos

This ring carries 212 diamonds, including three large, marquise-cut gems on the face, one for each Super Bowl victory for the franchise. The design uses yellow and white gold to effect, with diamond-cut orange sapphires to complete the team logo. The ring weighs in at more than five carats. Yellow gold letters at the top and bottom announce that they’re World Champions.

Each side of the ring has 28 stones, which symbolize the team’s 56-year existence. One side shows the player’s embossed name with a diamond-filled uniform number, while the other side shows a yellow gold banner that says, “This one’s for Pat,” for team owner Pat Bowlen. The team didn’t release the rings’ cost, but the 2015 NFL championship rings cost about $36,500 apiece.

Baseball: Chicago Cubs

If you buy sports memorabilia, you can be sure this championship ring will remain in high demand. Composed of 14-karat white gold, this ring uses 214 diamonds, 33 red rubies, and 46 blue sapphires for a total weight of 11 carats. 108 of the diamonds are arranged around the team logo and the gold “World Champions,” symbolizing the years since the team’s last championship.

The ring shows a lot of embossed white gold detail. On the sides, for example, Wrigley Field and its ivy are highlighted, along with the World Series trophy between two princess-cut diamonds for the team’s two previous championships. Of course, these rings feature a player’s name and uniform number. These rings cost approximately $70,000 apiece, making them the most valuable championship rings yet.