Open main menu

Ellsworth Tenney "Babe" Dahlgren (June 15, 1912 – September 4, 1996) was an American professional baseball infielder. He played twelve seasons in Major League Baseball from 1935 to 1946 for the Boston Red Sox, New York Yankees, Boston Braves, Chicago Cubs, St. Louis Browns, Brooklyn Dodgers, Philadelphia Phillies, and Pittsburgh Pirates. Dahlgren is perhaps best remembered for replacing Lou Gehrig in the lineup on May 2, 1939,[1] which ended Gehrig's 14-year, 2,130 consecutive game streak. Dahlgren hit a home run and a double as the Yankees routed Detroit 22-2. He went on to hit 15 home runs and drive in 89 runs for the season for the Yankees.[2]

Babe Dahlgren
Babe Dahlgren 1940.jpg
First baseman
Born: (1912-06-15)June 15, 1912
San Francisco, California
Died: September 4, 1996(1996-09-04) (aged 84)
Arcadia, California
Batted: Right Threw: Right
MLB debut
April 16, 1935, for the Boston Red Sox
Last MLB appearance
September 3, 1946, for the St. Louis Browns
MLB statistics
Batting average.261
Home runs82
Runs batted in569
Career highlights and awards

Late in the 1940 season, Dahlgren mishandled a throw from Frank Crosetti in a critical game against the Cleveland Indians. The Yankees lost that game, and with it any realistic chance at a fifth straight pennant. Manager Joe McCarthy believed that Dahlgren's error was what ultimately cost the Yankees the pennant. He suggested that Dahlgren was smoking marijuana, and that it dulled his reflexes enough to keep him from handling the throw cleanly.[3] After discovering the existence of the rumor in 1943, Dahlgren became the first Major League Baseball player to take a drug test for a non-performance-enhancing drug. He did so voluntarily to discredit the rumors circulating at the time. The tests were all negative, refuting the charges of marijuana use. Dahlgren continued to play at the major league level until 1946, in a playing career which spanned 18 years, including all or part of twelve seasons in the majors. Dahlgren spent decades trying to uncover the source of the rumor.[4]

In 2007 a hypothesis as to who was the perpetrator of the rumor was brought forth by his grandson, Matt Dahlgren, in his self-published book, Rumor in Town.

Also notable during this period, the Browns returned Dahlgren to the Cubs for a contract dispute once it was learned that he had become eligible for the draft in May 1942.[5] He was sold to the Dodgers soon after. In August 1942 he sought voluntary retirement.[6] In early 1943, Dahlgren was notified by the draft board to report for his physical, which occurred in mid-May of that year.[7] After passing his physical, Dahlgren was to be inducted into the military in July 1943.[8] In July 1943, he played on the National League All-star team. In October 1943, Dahlgren was rejected for military service due to a sinus condition.[9]


  • Had a 621 consecutive game streak with the San Francisco Missions of the Pacific Coast League from 1931–1934
  • Member of the 1934 Pacific Coast League All-Star Team
  • Member of the 1936 International League All-Star Team as a member of the Syracuse Chiefs
  • Member of the 1937 International League All-Star Team as a member of the Newark Bears
  • Member of 1938-39 World Series Champions
  • Hit the first home run of the 1939 World Series in game 2 off of Bucky Walters
  • Named to 1943 National League All-Star Team
  • Presided over the first American League pension plan meeting in 1946


  1. ^ "Retrosheet Boxscore: New York Yankees 22, Detroit Tigers 2". Retrosheet.
  2. ^ "Lou Gehrig ends his streak", The Baseball Page
  3. ^ Appel, Marty (2014). Pinstripe Empire. New York City: Bloomsbury USA. ISBN 9781608194926.
  4. ^ Rumor in Town, by Matt Dahlgren
  5. ^ The New York Times, May 19, 1942
  6. ^ The New York Times, August 23, 1942
  7. ^ The New York Times, May 20, 1943
  8. ^ The New York Times, May 27, 1943
  9. ^ The New York Times, October 21, 1943

External linksEdit