World Sports Hall of Fame 1945: Lou Gehrig, George Nepia, Harold Vanderbilt and Helen Wills-Moody

As with the British version I have resumed my World Sports Hall of Fame in1945, following World War II when little sport took place. My first post-war inductees are :

Lou Gehrig (USA -Baseball) – one of the central players who helped the New York Yankees dominate baseball in the 1920s and 1930s. Widely regarded as the greatest first baseman in baseball history he established a record of 2130 consecutive games played between 1925 and 1939 when he had to stop due to serious illness. This record lasted for nearly sixty years. He was a great batter who won the Triple Crown in 1934 and led the American League in RBIs five times. This included 184 in 1931 which has stood as the record ever since. He scored 493 Home Runs in his career from 1923 to 1939 and 1990 RBIs and won six world series titles.

George Nepia (New Zealand – Rugby Union) – regarded as one of the greatest full-backs in history and the first superstar of New Zealand rugby. He made his name on the “Invincibles” tour of 1924/5 when as a 19 year-old he played in all 38 unbeaten games of the All Blacks tour to Australia, Europe and Canada. He played in Tests in 1929 against Australia and in all four Tests against The British Lions in 1930. In 1935 he played rugby league and won international honours at that sport before returning to Union in the war-time amnesty.

Harold Vanderbilt (USA-Sailing) – the only man ever to defend the America’s Cup three consecutive times in different boats while skippering and steering. He defended the Cup in 1930,1934 and 1937 losing only two races in those defences. These used J class boats which were very expensive and not used again. He was the greatest yachtsman of his era winning six “King’s Cups” and five Astor Cups at regattas between 1922 and 1938.  He helped devise new rules for international sailing and also invented the game of contract bridge.

Helen Wills (USA – Tennis) – the greatest woman player of her era and one of the most dominant players of all-time. She was unbeaten in singles matches from autumn 1926 to 1933 and didn’t drop a set from 1927 to the Wimbledon final of 1933. She won eight Wimbledon singles titles between 1927 and 1938 which was the record for over fifty years. She won the US Open a record equalling seven times between 1923 and 1931 and the French Open four times. She also won twelve Grand Slam doubles titles and the Olympic singles and doubles golds in 1924.

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