1903 : Charles Gehringer, Greatest Detroit Tiger Ever?

May 11, 2022 all-day

Out of the farmlands of Fowlerville was born who many sports experts say was the greatest of all the Detroit Tigers: Charles Gehringer.

Born on May 11, 1903, Charlie just couldn’t get into farming as his father was. He shirked his farm chores throughout his grade school & high school years, but he was a star when it came to high school sports – basketball, to be exact. His prowess on the basketball courts landed him a scholarship to the University of Michigan, where he also wound up playing baseball and football.

When he was 20 years old, he was spotted playing baseball back in Fowlerville by Detroit Tiger Bobby Veach. Veach went back to Detroit and coaxed teammate Ty Cobb into seeing this farm kid from Fowlerville; after watching him play, Charlie was invited to tryout for the Tigers, and in 1924 – at the age of 21 – Charlie began his Major League career.

Unfortunately, his father passed away before he had a chance to see his son play. From then on, Charlie felt it was his duty to care for his mother for the rest of her life. He refused to get married, as he felt it would be unfair for his wife to help care for his mother. When his mom passed away in 1946, he felt he could finally be comfortable with a wife. In 1949, at the age of 46, Charlie married Josephine Stillen, and stayed together for the rest of his life.

After his mother passed away in 1946 and before he married in 1949, he wanted to get back with the Tigers. He asked if he could join them for spring training but they refused, probably thinking he was too old at age 43. But in 1950, he was asked to be the Tigers’ general manager, which he accepted.

Charlie did not like the GM position, but stuck with it for two years, and then became Tigers Vice-President, which wasn’t as nerve-wracking.

Not a bad life for a farm lad from Fowlerville.

On January 21, 1993, Gehringer passed away at the age of 89.

Source: John Robinson,  “The Greatest Detroit Tiger of All Time Was From Fowlerville“, 99.1WFMK Blog, September 17, 2021.

Charles Gehringer wikipedia entry.