Tommy Henrich debuted as a 24-year old outfielder with the New York Yankees in 1937. His first game with the the defending World Series champs came on May 11 when he went 1-for-4 against Chicago’s Monty Stratton in the White Sox 7-2 win.
In 67 games Henrich hit .320 with a .419 on-base percentage. He was in the lineup for good. The Yankees won five pennants and four World Series titles in the first six years of Henrich’s career.
From his debut in ’37 until 1942, Henrich accumulated 20.0 WAR and was on the verge of stardom. Then World War II intervened. Eight weeks after getting a double in the All Star Game, Henrich joined the US Coast Guard.
He spent the war years in Michigan before completing his hitch on September 29, 1945. By that time Henrich missed four full years of baseball.
Henrich returned to the Yankees with a bang in 1946. He finished the year among the top ten in the AL in walks, runs, homers, and runs batted in.
It was Yankee broadcaster Mel Allen who gave Henrich the moniker, “Old Reliable”. He was so named for his ability to get a hit at just the right time.
From ’47-’50 Henrich put up All Star seasons in each of his final four big league years. In three of those years he received votes in MVP balloting.
In postseason play Henrich played in four World Series, winning them all. He had 22 hits, eight for extra bases including four home runs.
Injuries took their toll and Henrich retired at the end of 1950. He finished his 11-year big league with a .282 average, a .382 on-base percentage and a 132 OPS+.
After his playing days Henrich coached for the Yankees, New York Giants, and Tigers.