Henry Louis Gehrig (born Heinrich Ludwig Gehrig; June 19, 1903 – June 2, 1941), nicknamed "The Iron Horse", was an American baseball first baseman who played his entire professional career (17 seasons from 1923 until 1939) in Major League Baseball (MLB) for the New York Yankees. Gehrig was renowned for his prowess as a hitter and for his durability, which earned him his nickname "The Iron Horse." He was an All-Star seven consecutive times, a Triple Crown winner once, an American League (AL) Most Valuable Player twice, and a member of six World Series champion teams. He had a career .340 batting average, .632 slugging average, and a .447 on base average. He hit 493 home runs and had 1,995 runs batted in (RBI). In 1939 he was elected to the Baseball Hall of Fame and was the first MLB player to have his uniform number (4) retired by a team.
A native of New York City and a student at Columbia University, Gehrig signed with the Yankees in 1923. He set several major-league records during his career, including the most career grand slams (23) (since broken by Alex Rodriguez) and most consecutive games played (2,130), a record that stood for 56 years and was long considered unbreakable until surpassed by Cal Ripken, Jr., in 1995. Gehrig's consecutive game streak ended on May 2, 1939, when he voluntarily took himself out of the lineup, stunning both players and fans, after his performance on the field became hampered by amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, an incurable neuromuscular illness now commonly referred to in North America as "Lou Gehrig's disease." The disease forced him to retire at age 36, and was the cause of his death two years later. The pathos of his farewell from baseball was capped off by his iconic 1939 "Luckiest Man on the Face of the Earth" speech at Yankee Stadium.
In 1969 the Baseball Writers' Association voted Gehrig the greatest first baseman of all time, and he was the leading vote-getter on the Major League Baseball All-Century Team chosen by fans in 1999. A monument in Gehrig's honor, originally dedicated by the Yankees in 1941, currently resides in Monument Park at Yankee Stadium. The Lou Gehrig Memorial Award is given annually to the MLB player who best exhibits Gehrig's integrity and character.
Gehrig with the New York Yankees in 1923
|Born: June 19, 1903|
Yorkville, Manhattan, New York City
|Died: June 2, 1941 (aged 37)|
Riverdale, Bronx, New York City
|June 15, 1923, for the New York Yankees|
|Last MLB appearance|
|April 30, 1939, for the New York Yankees|
|Runs batted in||1,995|
|Career highlights and awards|
|Member of the National|
|Baseball Hall of Fame|
Gehrig was born in 1903 at 309 East 94th Street in the Yorkville neighborhood of Manhattan; he weighed almost 14 pounds (6.4 kg) at birth. He was the second of four children of German immigrants, Christina Foch (1881–1954) and Heinrich Gehrig (1867–1946). His father was a sheet-metal worker by trade who was frequently unemployed due to alcoholism, and his mother, a maid, was the main breadwinner and disciplinarian in the family. His two sisters died at an early age from whooping cough and measles; a brother also died in infancy. From an early age, Gehrig helped his mother with work, doing tasks such as folding laundry and picking up supplies from the local stores. Gehrig spoke German during his childhood. In 1910 he lived with his parents at 2266 Amsterdam Avenue in Washington Heights. In 1920 the family resided on 8th Avenue in Manhattan. His name was often anglicized to Henry Louis Gehrig and he was known as "Lou" so he would not be confused with his identically named father, who was known as Henry.
Gehrig first garnered national attention for his baseball ability while playing in a game at Cubs Park (now Wrigley Field) on June 26, 1920. His New York School of Commerce team was playing a team from Chicago's Lane Tech High School in front of a crowd of more than 10,000 spectators. With his team leading 8–6 in the top of the ninth inning, Gehrig hit a grand slam completely out of the major league park, which was an unheard-of feat for a 17-year-old.
Gehrig attended PS 132 in the Washington Heights section of Manhattan, then went to Commerce High School, graduating in 1921. He then studied at Columbia University for two years, before leaving to pursue a career in professional baseball. Initially, he went to Columbia on a football scholarship, where he was preparing to pursue a degree in engineering. Before his first semester began, New York Giants manager John McGraw advised him to play summer professional baseball under an assumed name, Henry Lewis, despite the fact that it could jeopardize his collegiate sports eligibility. After he played a dozen games for the Hartford Senators in the Eastern League, he was discovered and banned from collegiate sports his freshman year. In 1922 Gehrig returned to collegiate sports as a fullback for the Columbia Lions football program. Later, in 1923, he played first base and pitched for the Columbia baseball team. At Columbia, he was a member of Phi Delta Theta fraternity.
On April 18, 1923, the same day Yankee Stadium opened for the first time and Babe Ruth inaugurated the new stadium with a home run against the Boston Red Sox, Columbia pitcher Gehrig struck out 17 Williams College batters to set a team record, though Columbia lost the game. Only a handful of collegians were at South Field that day, but more significant was the presence of Yankee scout Paul Krichell, who had been trailing Gehrig for some time. Gehrig's pitching did not particularly impress him; rather, it was Gehrig's powerful left-handed hitting. During the time Krichell observed him, Gehrig had hit some of the longest home runs ever seen on various eastern campuses, including a 450-foot (137 m) home run on April 28 at Columbia's South Field, which landed at 116th Street and Broadway. He signed a contract with the Yankees on April 30. He returned to the minor-league Hartford Senators to play parts of two seasons, 1923 and 1924, batting .344 and hitting 61 home runs in 193 games, the only time Gehrig had ever played any level of baseball – sandlot, high school, collegiate or pro – for a team based outside New York City.
Gehrig joined the New York Yankees midway through the 1923 season and made his major-league debut as a pinch hitter at age 19 on June 15, 1923. Gehrig wore the number "4" because he hit behind Babe Ruth, who batted third in the lineup. In his first two seasons, he saw limited playing time, mostly as a pinch hitter – he played in only 23 games and was not on the Yankees' 1923 World Series roster. In 1925 he batted .295, with 20 home runs and 68 runs batted in (RBIs).
The 23-year-old Yankee first baseman's breakout season came in 1926, when he batted .313 with 47 doubles, an American League-leading 20 triples, 16 home runs, and 112 RBIs. In the 1926 World Series against the St. Louis Cardinals, Gehrig hit .348 with two doubles and four RBIs. The Cardinals won the series four games to three.
In 1927 Gehrig put together one of the greatest seasons by any batter in history, hitting .373, with 218 hits: 101 singles, 52 doubles, 18 triples, 47 home runs, a then-record 175 RBIs (surpassing teammate Babe Ruth's 171 six years earlier), and a .765 slugging percentage. His 117 extra-base hits that season are second all-time to Babe Ruth's 119 extra-base hits in 1921 and his 447 total bases are third all-time, after Babe Ruth's 457 total bases in 1921 and Rogers Hornsby's 450 in 1922. Gehrig's production helped the 1927 Yankees to a 110–44 record, the AL pennant (by 19 games), and a four-game sweep of the Pittsburgh Pirates in the World Series. Although the AL recognized his season by naming him league MVP, Gehrig's accomplishments were overshadowed by Babe Ruth's 60-home-run season and the overall dominance of the 1927 Yankees, a team often cited as having the greatest lineup of all time – the famed "Murderers' Row".
Despite playing in the shadow of Ruth for two-thirds of his career, Gehrig was one of the highest run producers in baseball history; he had 509 RBIs during a three-season stretch (1930–32). Only two other players, Jimmie Foxx with 507 and Hank Greenberg with 503, have surpassed 500 RBIs in any three seasons; their totals were not consecutive. (Babe Ruth had 498.) Playing 14 complete seasons, Gehrig had 13 consecutive seasons with 100 or more RBIs (a major-league record shared with Foxx until eclipsed in 2010 by Alex Rodriguez). Gehrig had six seasons where he batted .350 or better (with a high of .379 in 1930), plus a seventh season at .349. Gehrig led the American League in runs scored four times, home runs three times, and RBIs five times. His 184 RBIs in 1931 remain the American League record as of 2018 and rank second all-time to Hack Wilson's 191 in 1930. On the single-season RBI list, Gehrig ranks second, fifth (175), and sixth (174), with four additional seasons of over 150 RBIs. He also holds the baseball record for most seasons with 400 total bases or more, accomplishing this feat five times in his career. He batted fourth in the lineup behind Ruth, making intentionally walking Ruth counterproductive for opposing pitchers.
During the 10 seasons (1925–1934) in which Gehrig and Ruth were teammates and next to each other in the batting order and played a majority of the games, Gehrig had more home runs than Ruth only once, in 1934 (which was Ruth's last year with the Yankees), when he hit 49 to Ruth's 22 (Ruth played 125 games that year). They tied at 46 in 1931. Ruth had 424 home runs compared to Gehrig's 347. However, Gehrig outpaced Ruth in RBIs, 1,436 to 1,316. Gehrig had a .343 batting average, compared to .338 for Ruth.
In 1932 Gehrig became the first player in the 20th century to hit four home runs in a game, when he accomplished the feat on June 3 against the Philadelphia Athletics. He narrowly missed getting a fifth home run when Athletics center fielder Al Simmons made a leaping catch of another fly ball at the center-field fence. After the game, manager Joe McCarthy told him, "Well, Lou, nobody can take today away from you." On the same day, however, John McGraw announced his retirement after 30 years of managing the New York Giants. McGraw, not Gehrig, got the main headlines in the sports sections the next day.
On August 17, 1933, Gehrig played in his 1,308th consecutive game against the St. Louis Browns at Sportsman's Park, which broke the longest consecutive games played streak previously held by Everett Scott. Scott attended as a guest of the Browns.
In a 1936 World Series cover story about Lou Gehrig and Carl Hubbell, Time proclaimed Gehrig "the game's No. 1 batsman", who "takes boyish pride in banging a baseball as far, and running around the bases as quickly, as possible".
Also in 1936, at the urging of his wife, Gehrig agreed to hire Babe Ruth's agent, who, in turn, persuaded him to audition for the role of Tarzan, the Ape Man, after Johnny Weissmuller had vacated the iconic movie role. Gehrig only got as far, though, as posing for a widely distributed, and embarrassing, photo of himself in a leopard-spotted costume. When Tarzan creator Edgar Rice Burroughs spotted the outfit, he telegrammed Gehrig, "I want to congratulate you on being a swell first baseman."
On June 1, 1925, Gehrig entered the game as a pinch hitter, substituting for shortstop Paul "Pee Wee" Wanninger. The next day, June 2, Yankee manager Miller Huggins started Gehrig in place of regular first baseman Wally Pipp. Pipp was in a slump, as was the team, so Huggins made several lineup changes in an attempt to boost their performance, replacing Pipp, Aaron Ward, and Wally Schang. Fourteen years later, Gehrig had played 2,130 consecutive games.
In a few instances, Gehrig managed to keep the streak intact through pinch-hitting appearances and fortuitous timing; in others, the streak continued despite injuries. For example:
In addition, X-rays taken late in his life disclosed that Gehrig had sustained several fractures during his playing career, although he remained in the lineup despite those previously undisclosed injuries. However, the streak was helped when Yankees general manager Ed Barrow postponed a game as a rainout on a day when Gehrig was sick with the flu, though it was not raining.
Although his performance in the second half of the 1938 season was slightly better than in the first half, Gehrig reported physical changes at the midway point. At the end of that season, he said, "I was tired mid-season. I don't know why, but I just couldn't get going again." Although his final 1938 statistics were above average (.295 batting average, 114 RBIs, 170 hits, .523 slugging percentage, 689 plate appearances with only 75 strikeouts, and 29 home runs), they were significantly down from his 1937 season, in which he batted .351 and slugged .643. In the 1938 World Series, he had four hits in 14 at-bats, all singles.
When the Yankees began their 1939 spring training in St. Petersburg, Florida, Gehrig clearly no longer possessed his once-formidable power. Even his baserunning was affected, and at one point he collapsed at Al Lang Field, then the Yankees' spring training park. By the end of spring training, he had not hit a home run. Throughout his career, Gehrig was considered an excellent base runner, but as the 1939 season got under way, his coordination and speed had deteriorated significantly.
By the end of April, his statistics were the worst of his career, with one RBI and a .143 batting average. Fans and the press openly speculated on Gehrig's abrupt decline. James Kahn, a reporter who wrote often about Gehrig, said in one article:
I think there is something wrong with him. Physically wrong, I mean. I don't know what it is, but I am satisfied that it goes far beyond his ball-playing. I have seen ballplayers 'go' overnight, as Gehrig seems to have done. But they were simply washed up as ballplayers. It's something deeper than that in this case, though. I have watched him very closely and this is what I have seen: I have seen him time a ball perfectly, swing on it as hard as he can, meet it squarely – and drive a soft, looping fly over the infield. In other words, for some reason that I do not know, his old power isn't there ... He is meeting the ball, time after time, and it isn't going anywhere.
He was indeed meeting the ball, with only one strikeout in 28 at-bats; however, Joe McCarthy found himself resisting pressure from Yankee management to switch Gehrig to a part-time role. Things came to a head when Gehrig struggled to make a routine put-out at first base. The pitcher, Johnny Murphy, had to wait for him to drag himself over to the bag so he could field the throw. Murphy said, "Nice play, Lou."
On May 2, the next game after a day off, Gehrig approached McCarthy before the game in Detroit against the Tigers and said, "I'm benching myself, Joe", telling the Yankees' skipper that he was doing so "for the good of the team." McCarthy acquiesced, putting Ellsworth "Babe" Dahlgren in at first base, and also said that whenever Gehrig wanted to play again, the position was his. Gehrig, as Yankee captain, himself took the lineup card out to the shocked umpires before the game, ending the 14-year streak. Before the game began, the Briggs Stadium announcer told the fans, "Ladies and gentlemen, this is the first time Lou Gehrig's name will not appear on the Yankee lineup in 2,130 consecutive games." The Detroit Tigers' fans gave Gehrig a standing ovation while he sat on the bench with tears in his eyes. Coincidentally, among those attending the game was Wally Pipp, whom Gehrig had replaced at first base 2,130 games previously. A wire-service photograph of Gehrig reclining against the dugout steps with a stoic expression appeared the next day in the nation's newspapers. He stayed with the Yankees as team captain for the rest of the season, but never played in a major-league game again.
As Gehrig's debilitation became steadily worse, his wife Eleanor called the famed Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minnesota. Her call was transferred to Charles William Mayo, who had been following Gehrig's career and his mysterious loss of strength. Mayo told Eleanor to bring Gehrig as soon as possible.
Gehrig flew alone to Rochester from Chicago, where the Yankees were playing at the time, and arrived at the Mayo Clinic on June 13, 1939. After six days of extensive testing at the clinic, doctors confirmed the diagnosis of amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) on June 19, 1939, which was Gehrig's 36th birthday. The prognosis was grim: rapidly increasing paralysis, difficulty in swallowing and speaking, and a life expectancy less than three years, although no impairment of mental functions would occur. Eleanor Gehrig was told that the cause of ALS was unknown, but it was painless, noncontagious, and cruel; the motor function of the central nervous system is destroyed, but the mind remains fully aware to the end. Gehrig often wrote letters to Eleanor, and in one such note written shortly afterwards, said in part:
The bad news is lateral sclerosis, in our language chronic infantile paralysis. There isn't any cure ... there are very few of these cases. It is probably caused by some germ ... Never heard of transmitting it to mates ... There is a 50–50 chance of keeping me as I am. I may need a cane in 10 or 15 years. Playing is out of the question ...
Following Gehrig's visit to the Mayo Clinic, he briefly rejoined the Yankees in Washington, DC. As his train pulled into Union Station, he was greeted by a group of Boy Scouts, happily waving and wishing him luck. Gehrig waved back, but he leaned forward to his companion, Rutherford "Rud" Rennie of the New York Herald Tribune, and said, "They're wishing me luck – and I'm dying."
An article in the September 2010 issue of the Journal of Neuropathology & Experimental Neurology suggested the possibility that some ALS-related illnesses diagnosed in Gehrig and other athletes may have been catalyzed by repeated concussions and other brain trauma. In 2012, Minnesota state legislators sought to unseal Gehrig's medical records, which are held by the Mayo Clinic, in an effort to determine a connection, if any, between his illness and the concussion-related trauma he received during his career, prior to the advent of batting helmets and other protective equipment. The effort was abandoned after several leading medical experts explained that a records review would have no value unless correlated with autopsy data. An autopsy was not performed on Gehrig's body, and his remains were cremated after his open-casket wake.
|Lou Gehrig's number 4 was retired by the New York Yankees in 1939.|
The doctors of the Mayo Clinic had released their ALS diagnosis to the public on June 19, 1939. Two days later, the New York Yankees announced Gehrig's retirement, with an immediate public push to honor Gehrig. The idea of an appreciation day reportedly began with Bill Hirsch, a friend of sports columnist Bill Corum. Corum spoke of the idea in his column, and other sportswriters picked up on the idea, promoting it far and wide in their respective periodicals. Someone suggested the appreciation day be held during the All-Star Game, but when Yankees president Ed Barrow got ahold of the idea, he quickly shot down the All-Star Game suggestion. He did not want Gehrig to share the spotlight with any other all-star. Believing the idea was valid and the best thing to do, he wanted the appreciation day to be soon, and the Yankees proclaimed Tuesday, July 4, 1939, "Lou Gehrig Appreciation Day" at Yankee Stadium. Between games of the Independence Day doubleheader against the Washington Senators, the poignant ceremonies were held on the diamond. In its coverage the following day, The New York Times said it was "perhaps as colorful and dramatic a pageant as ever was enacted on a baseball field [as] 61,808 fans thundered a hail and farewell." Dignitaries extolled the dying slugger and the members of the 1927 Yankees World Series team, known as "Murderer's Row", attended the ceremonies. New York Mayor Fiorello La Guardia called Gehrig "the greatest prototype of good sportsmanship and citizenship" and Postmaster General James Farley concluded his speech by predicting, "For generations to come, boys who play baseball will point with pride to your record."
Yankees Manager Joe McCarthy, struggling to control his emotions, then spoke of Lou Gehrig, with whom he had a close, almost father-and-son–like bond. After describing Gehrig as "the finest example of a ballplayer, sportsman, and citizen that baseball has ever known", McCarthy could stand it no longer. Turning tearfully to Gehrig, the manager said, "Lou, what else can I say except that it was a sad day in the life of everybody who knew you when you came into my hotel room that day in Detroit and told me you were quitting as a ballplayer because you felt yourself a hindrance to the team. My God, man, you were never that."
The Yankees retired Gehrig's uniform number "4", making him the first player in Major League Baseball history to be accorded that honor. Gehrig was given many gifts, commemorative plaques, and trophies. Some came from VIPs; others came from the stadium's groundskeepers and janitorial staff. Footage of the ceremonies shows Gehrig being handed various gifts, and immediately setting them down on the ground, because he no longer had the arm strength to hold them. The Yankees gave him a silver trophy with all of their signatures engraved on it. Inscribed on the front was a special poem they asked to be written by The New York Times writer John Kieran. The inscription on the trophy presented to Gehrig from his Yankees teammates:
We've been to the wars together;
We took our foes as they came;
And always you were the leader,
And ever you played the game.
Idol of cheering millions,
Records are yours by sheaves;
Iron of frame they hailed you
Decked you with laurel leaves.
But higher than that we hold you,
We who have known you best;
Knowing the way you came through
Every human test.
Let this be a silent token
Of lasting Friendship's gleam,
And all that we've left unspoken;
Your Pals of the Yankees Team.
On July 4, 1939, Gehrig delivered what has been called "baseball's Gettysburg Address" to a sold-out crowd at Yankee Stadium. The following text is the official written version published on Lougehrig.com. The parts that are different from the available snippets of recordings of the speech actually given are shown in brackets in footnotes and replaced here by the words actually spoken:
Fans, for the past two weeks, you've been reading about a bad break. [pause] Today I consider myself the luckiest man on the face of the earth. I have been in ballparks for 17 years and have never received anything but kindness and encouragement from you fans.
When you look around, wouldn't you consider it a privilege to associate yourself with such fine-looking men as are standing in uniform in this ballpark today? Sure, I'm lucky. Who wouldn't consider it an honor to have known Jacob Ruppert? Also, the builder of baseball's greatest empire, Ed Barrow? To have spent six years with that wonderful little fellow, Miller Huggins? Then to have spent the next nine years with that outstanding leader, that smart student of psychology, the best manager in baseball today, Joe McCarthy? Sure, I'm lucky.
When the New York Giants, a team you would give your right arm to beat, and vice versa, sends you a gift – that's something. When everybody down to the groundskeepers and those boys in white coats remember you with trophies – that's something. When you have a wonderful mother-in-law who takes sides with you in squabbles with her own daughter – that's something. When you have a father and a mother who work all their lives so you can have an education and build your body – it's a blessing. When you have a wife who has been a tower of strength and shown more courage than you dreamed existed – that's the finest I know.
So I close in saying that I might have been given a bad break, but I've got an awful lot to live for. – Thank you.
No intact film of Gehrig's speech is known; only a small snippet of the newsreel footage has survived, incorporating his opening and closing remarks:
For the past two weeks you've been reading about a bad break. (pause) Today I consider myself the luckiest man on the face of the earth. (cut) When you look around, wouldn't you consider it a privilege to associate yourself with such fine-looking men as are standing in uniform in this ballpark today? (cut) ... that I might have been given a bad break, but I've got an awful lot to live for. Thank you.
The crowd stood and applauded for almost two minutes. Gehrig was visibly shaken as he stepped back from the microphone, and wiped the tears away from his face with his handkerchief. Babe Ruth came over and hugged him as a band played "I Love You Truly" and the crowd chanted, "We love you, Lou". The New York Times account the following day called it "one of the most touching scenes ever witnessed on a ball field", that made even hard-boiled reporters "swallow hard."
During a winter meeting of the Baseball Writers' Association on December 7, 1939, Gehrig was elected to the National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum in a special election related to his illness. At age 36, he was the youngest player to be so honored to date (that figure was surpassed by Sandy Koufax in 1972). He never had a formal induction ceremony. On July 28, 2013, Gehrig and 11 other deceased ballplayers, including Rogers Hornsby, received a special tribute during the induction ceremony, held during "Hall of Fame Induction Weekend", July 26–29 in Cooperstown, New York.
Gehrig played his last game for the Yankees on April 30, 1939. On July 11 of that year, he appeared at the All-Star Game at Yankee Stadium as the American League team captain (officially on the roster as a reserve player), exchanging lineup cards prior to the game.
Following his retirement from baseball, Lou Gehrig wrote, "Don't think I am depressed or pessimistic about my condition at present". Struggling against his ever-worsening physical condition, he added, "I intend to hold on as long as possible and then if the inevitable comes, I will accept it philosophically and hope for the best. That's all we can do."
In October 1939, he accepted Mayor Fiorello La Guardia's appointment to a 10-year term as a New York City Parole Commissioner (Gehrig had moved from New Rochelle to Riverdale to satisfy a residency requirement for the job) and was sworn into office on January 2, 1940. The Parole Commission commended the ex-ballplayer for his "firm belief in parole, properly administered", stating that Gehrig "indicated he accepted the parole post because it represented an opportunity for public service. He had rejected other job offers – including lucrative speaking and guest appearance opportunities – worth far more financially than the $5,700 a year commissionership." Gehrig visited New York City's correctional facilities, but insisted that the visits not be covered by news media. As always, Gehrig quietly and efficiently performed his duties. He was often helped by his wife Eleanor, who would guide his hand when he had to sign official documents. Gehrig reached the point where his deteriorating physical condition made it impossible for him to continue in the job, and he quietly resigned from the position about a month before his death.
Upon hearing the news, Babe Ruth and his wife Claire went to the Gehrig house to console Eleanor. Mayor La Guardia ordered flags in New York to be flown at half-staff, and major-league ballparks around the nation did likewise.
Following the funeral across the street from his house at Christ Episcopal Church of Riverdale, Gehrig's remains were cremated and scattered on June 4 at Kensico Cemetery in Valhalla, New York, which is 21 miles north of Yankee Stadium in suburban Westchester County. Lou Gehrig and Ed Barrow are both interred in the same section of Kensico Cemetery, which is next door to Gate of Heaven Cemetery, where the graves of Babe Ruth and Billy Martin are both located in Section 25.
The Gehrigs had no children during their eight-year marriage. Eleanor never remarried and was quoted as saying, "I had the best of it. I would not have traded two minutes of my life with that man for 40 years with another." She dedicated the remainder of her life to supporting ALS research. She died 43 years after Lou on her 80th birthday, March 6, 1984, and was interred with him in Kensico Cemetery.
Today the ALS treatment and research center at his alma mater, Columbia University is named The Eleanor and Lou Gehrig ALS Center.  Located at NewYork–Presbyterian / Columbia University Medical Center, they help those today and in the future who suffer from with ALS and the related motor neuron diseases primary lateral sclerosis and progressive muscular atrophy.
The Yankees dedicated a monument to Gehrig in center field at Yankee Stadium on July 6, 1941; the shrine lauded him as "A man, a gentleman and a great ballplayer whose amazing record of 2,130 consecutive games should stand for all time." Gehrig's monument joined the one placed there in 1932 to Miller Huggins, which would eventually be followed by Babe Ruth's in 1949.
Gehrig's birthplace in Manhattan at 1994 Second Avenue, near E. 103rd Street, is memorialized with a plaque marking the site, as is another early residence on 309 E. 94th Street, near Second Avenue. As of December 26, 2011, the first-mentioned plaque is not present due to ongoing construction. The second-mentioned plaque is present, but ascribes to his birthplace, not early residence. Gehrig died in a white house at 5204 Delafield Avenue in the Riverdale section of the Bronx. The house still stands today on the east side of the Henry Hudson Parkway and is likewise marked by a plaque.
|Most consecutive seasons with 120+ RBIs||8 (1927–1934)|||
|Highest on-base percentage by a first baseman||.447|||
|Highest slugging percentage by a first baseman||.632|||
|Most extra base hits by a first baseman||1,190|||
|Most runs batted-in by a first baseman||184 (1931)|||
|Most runs scored by a first baseman||167 (1936)|||
|Highest slugging percentage by a first baseman||.765 (1927)|||
|Extra-base hits by a first baseman||117 (1927)|||
|Most total bases by a first baseman||447 (1927)|||
|Most home runs[a]||4|||
|Award/Honor||# of Times||Dates||Refs|
|American League All-Star||7||1933–1939|||
|American League MVP||2||1927, 1936|||
|The Lou Gehrig Memorial Award||—||1955–present|||
|Named starting first baseman on the Major League Baseball All-Century Team||—||1999|||
|Inducted into National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum||—||1939|||
|World Series champion||6||1927, 1928, 1932, 1936, 1937, 1938|
|Triple Crown (.363 BA, 49 HR, 165 RBI)||1934|
|Only player in history to collect 400 total bases in five seasons||1927, 1930, 1931, 1934, 1936|
|With Stan Musial, one of two players to collect at least 500 doubles, 150 triples, and 450 home runs in a career||–|
|One of only four players (with Babe Ruth, Stan Musial, and Ted Williams) to end career with a minimum .330 batting average, 450 home runs, and 1,800 RBI||–|
|With Albert Pujols, one of two players to hit 40 doubles and 40 home runs in the same season three separate times||1927, 1930, 1934|
|Scored game-winning run in eight World Series games||–|
|First athlete ever to appear on a box of Wheaties||–|
|First baseball player to have his uniform number retired (January 6, 1940); his July 4, 1939, farewell speech was voted by fans as the fifth-greatest moment in Major League Baseball history in 2002||July 4, 1939|
|The Lou Gehrig Memorial Trophy was awarded to the most valuable player in the annual Hearst Sandlot Classic.||1946 - 1965|
|A Lou Gehrig 25-cent postage stamp was issued by the U.S. Postal Service on the 50th anniversary of his retirement from baseball, depicting him both in profile and at bat (Scott number 2417)||1989|
|On the 70th anniversary of his farewell address in Yankee Stadium, MLB dedicated a day of remembrance to him and to the awareness of ALS||July 4, 2009|
|Gehrig was mentioned in the poem "Line-Up for Yesterday" by Ogden Nash:|
Gehrig starred in the 1938 20th Century Fox movie Rawhide, playing himself in his only feature-film appearance. In 2006, researchers presented a paper to the American Academy of Neurology, reporting on an analysis of Rawhide and photographs of Lou Gehrig from the 1937–1939 period, to ascertain when Gehrig began to show visible symptoms of ALS. They concluded that while atrophy of hand muscles could be detected in 1939 photographs of Gehrig, no such abnormality was visible at the time Rawhide was made in January 1938. "Examination of Rawhide showed that Gehrig functioned normally in January 1938", the report concluded.
The life of Lou Gehrig was the subject of the 1942 film The Pride of the Yankees, starring Gary Cooper as Gehrig and Teresa Wright as his wife. It received 11 Academy Award nominations and won in one category, Film Editing. Real-life Yankees Babe Ruth, Bob Meusel, Mark Koenig, and Bill Dickey (then still an active player) played themselves, as did sportscaster Bill Stern.
The 1978 TV movie A Love Affair: The Eleanor and Lou Gehrig Story starred Blythe Danner and Edward Herrmann as Eleanor and Lou Gehrig. It was based on the 1976 autobiography My Luke and I, written by Eleanor Gehrig and Joseph Durso.
In an episode of the PBS series Jean Shepherd's America, the Chicago-born Jean Shepherd told of how his father (Jean Shepherd, Sr.) and he would watch Chicago White Sox games from the right-field upper deck at Comiskey Park in the 1930s. On one occasion, the Sox were playing the Yankees, and Shepherd Sr. had been taunting Gehrig, yelling at him all day. In the top of the ninth, with Sox icon Ted Lyons holding a slim lead, Gehrig came to bat with a man on base, and the senior Shepherd yelled in a voice that echoed around the ballpark, "Hit one up here, ya bum! I dare ya!" Gehrig did exactly that, hitting a screaming liner, practically into the heckler's lap, for the eventual game-winning home run. Shepherd's father was booed mercilessly, and he never again took junior Jean to a game. He apparently told this story originally when Gehrig's widow was in the audience at a speaking engagement.
... it may be indicative of how long German cultural ties endured [in the United States] that the German language was spoken in childhood by such disparate 20th-century American figures as famed writer H. L. Mencken, baseball stars Babe Ruth and Lou Gehrig, and by the Nobel Prize-winning economist George Stigler.
The 1927 Major League Baseball season began in April 1927 and ended with the 1927 World Series in October. No no-hitters were thrown during the season.
The New York Yankees, whose lineup featured Babe Ruth and Lou Gehrig, dominated the American League with 110 wins. The Yankees swept the Pittsburgh Pirates in the World Series.1928 World Series
In the 1928 World Series, the New York Yankees swept the St. Louis Cardinals in four games. This was the first time a team had swept consecutive Series.
Babe Ruth hit .625 (10 for 16) as the Yankees demolished their opponents by a combined score of 27 to 10. As he had done against the Cards in the 1926 Series, Ruth rocketed three home runs over the right field pavilion in Sportsman's Park in Game 4, the only one to do it twice in the World Series through the 2016 season. Unlike 1926, however, it occurred in the final game of a Series won by the Yanks and put an exclamation mark on their two consecutive World Series sweeps.
Lou Gehrig also had a good Series, hitting .545 ( 6 for 11) with four home runs. He drove in as many runs by himself (9) as the entire Cardinal team combined.
Bill McKechnie became the second manager to lead two different teams to the World Series, and like Pat Moran, won one and lost one.1932 New York Yankees season
The 1932 New York Yankees season was the team's 30th season in New York, and its 32nd season overall. The team finished with a record of 107–47, winning their seventh pennant, finishing 13 games ahead of the Philadelphia Athletics. New York was managed by future Hall of Famer Joe McCarthy. A record nine future Hall of Famers played on the team (Earle Combs, Bill Dickey, Lou Gehrig, Lefty Gomez, Tony Lazzeri, Herb Pennock, Red Ruffing, Babe Ruth, Joe Sewell).
The Yankees played their home games at Yankee Stadium. In the World Series, they swept the Chicago Cubs. They are the only major-league team ever to go an entire season without being shut out.1934 Major League Baseball All-Star Game
The 1934 Major League Baseball All-Star Game was the second playing of the mid-summer classic between the all-stars of the American League (AL) and National League (NL), the two leagues comprising Major League Baseball. The game was held on July 10 at the Polo Grounds in Manhattan, the home of the New York Giants of the National League. The game resulted in the American League defeating the National League 9–7.
The game is well known among baseball historians for the performance of NL starting pitcher Carl Hubbell. After allowing the first two batters to reach base on a single and a base on balls, Hubbell struck out five of the game's best hitters – Babe Ruth, Lou Gehrig, Jimmie Foxx, Al Simmons and Joe Cronin – in succession, setting a longstanding All-Star Game record for consecutive strikeouts.1936 Major League Baseball season
The 1936 Major League Baseball season.1937 Major League Baseball All-Star Game
The 1937 Major League Baseball All-Star Game was the fifth playing of the mid-summer classic between the all-stars of the American League (AL) and National League (NL), the two leagues comprising Major League Baseball. The game was held on July 7, 1937, at Griffith Stadium in Washington, D.C., the home of the Washington Senators of the American League. The game resulted in the American League defeating the National League 8–3.
The game, watched by President Franklin D. Roosevelt, is remembered because of a play in which Earl Averill of the Indians hit a ball that struck pitcher Dizzy Dean on the toe, breaking it. Complications of this injury shortened the career of the future Baseball Hall of Fame pitcher.1939 New York Yankees season
The 1939 New York Yankees season was the team's 37th season in New York, and its 39th overall. The team finished with a record of 106–45, winning their 11th pennant, finishing 17 games ahead of the Boston Red Sox. New York was managed by Joe McCarthy. The Yankees played their home games at Yankee Stadium. In the World Series, they beat the Cincinnati Reds in 4 games. This marked the first time any team had won four consecutive World Series and the first season for the team's radio gameday broadcasts.2009 Ivy League Baseball Championship Series
The 2009 Ivy League Baseball Championship Series took place at Red Rolfe Field at Biondi Park in Hanover, New Hampshire on May 2 and 3, 2009. The series matched the regular season champions of each of the league's two divisions. Dartmouth, the winner of the series, claimed the Ivy League's automatic berth in the 2009 NCAA Division I Baseball Tournament. It was Dartmouth's first Championship Series victory, coming in their fifth appearance.Cornell defeated Princeton in a one-game playoff to advance to the Championship Series and represent the Lou Gehrig Division. The playoff was held on April 29, 2009 at Hoy Field in Ithaca, New York.2014 Ivy League Baseball Championship Series
The 2014 Ivy League Baseball Championship Series was held at Robertson Field at Satow Stadium on the campus of Columbia in New York, NY on May 10. The series matched the regular season champions of each of the league's two divisions, Columbia and Dartmouth in a rematch of the 2013 edition. Columbia again won the series in two games to claim the Ivy League's automatic berth in the 2014 NCAA Division I Baseball Tournament.With the ties for both division leads, tiebreakers were played on the originally scheduled weekend of May 3 and 4 and the Championship series was delayed one week. Tiebreakers were played between Penn and Columbia for the Lou Gehrig Division title and between Yale and Dartmouth to decide the Red Rolfe Division.Columbia defeated Penn by a score of 4–0 in the tiebreaker for the Lou Gehrig Division. The game was held on May 3 at Meiklejohn Stadium on Penn's campus in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, with Lions senior David Speer extending his scoreless innings streak to 23, recording 9 strikeouts, and allowing just five hits and two walks. Columbia appears in the championship series for the second year in a row and fifth overall.In the tiebreaker for the Red Rolfe Division, Dartmouth defeated Yale by a score of 11–4. The game was held on May 4 at Dartmouth's home field, Red Rolfe Field at Biondi Park in Hanover, New Hampshire. Big Green starter Beau Sulser exited in the second inning due to an apparent elbow injury, and was replaced by sophomore Duncan Robinson. Robinson completed 5.1 innings to earn his seventh win, tied for most in the Ivy League in 2014. Dartmouth extended its winning streak to eight games and represents the Red Rolfe Division in the Championship Series for the seventh year in a row.As Columbia compiled the best record in the Ivy League in 2014, they hosted the series at Robertson Field at Satow Stadium in New York, NY.Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis
Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), also known as motor neurone disease (MND) or Lou Gehrig's disease, is a specific disease that causes the death of neurons controlling voluntary muscles. Some also use the term motor neuron disease for a group of conditions of which ALS is the most common. ALS is characterized by stiff muscles, muscle twitching, and gradually worsening weakness due to muscles decreasing in size. It may begin with weakness in the arms or legs, or with difficulty speaking or swallowing. About half of the people affected develop at least mild difficulties with thinking and behavior and most people experience pain. Most eventually lose the ability to walk, use their hands, speak, swallow, and breathe.The cause is not known in 90% to 95% of cases, but is believed to involve both genetic and environmental factors. The remaining 5–10% of cases are inherited from a person's parents. About half of these genetic cases are due to one of two specific genes. The underlying mechanism involves damage to both upper and lower motor neurons. The diagnosis is based on a person's signs and symptoms, with testing done to rule out other potential causes.No cure for ALS is known. The goal of treatment is to improve symptoms. A medication called riluzole may extend life by about two to three months. Non-invasive ventilation may result in both improved quality and length of life. Mechanical ventilation can prolong survival but does not stop disease progression. A feeding tube may help. The disease can affect people of any age, but usually starts around the age of 60 and in inherited cases around the age of 50. The average survival from onset to death is two to four years, though this can vary. About 10% survive longer than 10 years. Most die from respiratory failure. In Europe, the disease affects about two to three people per 100,000 per year. Rates in much of the world are unclear. In the United States, it is more common in white people than black people.Descriptions of the disease date back to at least 1824 by Charles Bell. In 1869, the connection between the symptoms and the underlying neurological problems was first described by Jean-Martin Charcot, who in 1874 began using the term amyotrophic lateral sclerosis. It became well known in the United States in the 20th century when in 1939 it affected the baseball player Lou Gehrig and later worldwide following the 1963 diagnosis of cosmologist Stephen Hawking. The first ALS gene was discovered in 1993 while the first animal model was developed in 1994. In 2014, videos of the Ice Bucket Challenge went viral on the Internet and increased public awareness of the condition.List of Major League Baseball career OPS leaders
On-base plus slugging (OPS) is a sabermetric baseball statistic calculated as the sum of a player's on-base percentage and slugging average. The ability of a player both to get on base and to hit for power, two important offensive skills, are represented.
Below is the list of the top 100 Major League Baseball players in career OPS with at least 3,000 career plate appearances.
Babe Ruth is the all-time leader with a career 1.1636 OPS. Ted Williams (1.1155), Lou Gehrig (1.0798), Barry Bonds (1.0512), Jimmie Foxx (1.0376), Hank Greenberg (1.0169), and Rogers Hornsby (1.0103) are the only other players with a career OPS over 1.0000.List of Major League Baseball career slugging percentage leaders
In baseball statistics, slugging percentage (SLG) is a measure of the batting productivity of a hitter. It is calculated as total bases divided by at bats. Unlike batting average, slugging percentage gives more weight to extra-base hits with doubles, triples, and home runs, relative to singles. Walks are specifically excluded from this calculation, as a plate appearance that ends in a walk is not counted as an at bat.
Babe Ruth is the all-time leader with a career slugging percentage of .6897. Ted Williams (.6338), Lou Gehrig (.6324), Jimmie Foxx (.6093), Barry Bonds (.6069), and Hank Greenberg (.6050) are the only other players with a career slugging percentage over .600.List of Major League Baseball runs batted in records
Major League Baseball has numerous records related to runs batted in (RBI).
Players denoted in boldface are still actively contributing to the record noted.
(r) denotes a player's rookie season.Lou Gehrig Memorial Award
The Lou Gehrig Memorial Award is given annually to a Major League Baseball (MLB) player who best exhibits the character and integrity of Lou Gehrig, both on the field and off it. The award was created by the Phi Delta Theta fraternity in honor of Gehrig, who was a member of the fraternity at Columbia University. It was first presented in 1955, fourteen years after Gehrig's death. The award's purpose is to recognize a player's exemplary contributions in "both his community and philanthropy." The bestowal of the award is overseen by the headquarters of the Phi Delta Theta in Oxford, Ohio, and the name of each winner is inscribed onto the Lou Gehrig Award plaque in the Baseball Hall of Fame in Cooperstown, New York. It is the only MLB award conferred by a fraternity.Twenty-four winners of the Lou Gehrig Memorial Award are members of the National Baseball Hall of Fame. The inaugural winner was Alvin Dark. Curt Schilling (1995) and Shane Victorino (2008) received the award for working with the ALS Association and raising money for amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS). The disease took Gehrig's life and is eponymously known as "Lou Gehrig's disease". Mike Timlin won the award in 2007 for his efforts in raising awareness and finding a cure for ALS, which took his mother's life in 2002.Winners of the Lou Gehrig Memorial Award have undertaken a variety of different causes. Many winners, including Rick Sutcliffe, Barry Larkin, Mark McGwire, Todd Stottlemyre and Derek Jeter, worked with children in need. Jeter assisted children and teenagers in avoiding drug and alcohol addiction through his Turn 2 Foundation, while Sutcliffe visited disabled children in hospitals and bestowed college scholarships to underprivileged juveniles through his foundation. Other winners devoted their work to aiding individuals who had a specific illness, such as Albert Pujols, whose daughter suffers from Down syndrome, and who devoted the Pujols Family Foundation to helping those with the disorder, and Ryan Zimmerman, who established the ziMS Foundation to raise money for multiple sclerosis, the disease which afflicts his mother.Murderers' Row
Murderers' Row were the baseball teams of the New York Yankees in the late 1920s, widely considered one of the best teams in history. The nickname is in particular describing the first six hitters in the 1927 team lineup: Earle Combs, Mark Koenig, Babe Ruth, Lou Gehrig, Bob Meusel, and Tony Lazzeri.Rawhide (1938 film)
Rawhide is a 1938 Western film starring Lou Gehrig and made by Twentieth Century-Fox Film Corporation. The movie was directed by Ray Taylor and produced by Sol Lesser from a screenplay by Jack Natteford and Daniel Jarrett. The cinematography was by Allen Q. Thompson. This is the only Hollywood movie in which baseball great Lou Gehrig made a screen appearance, playing himself as a vacationing ballplayer visiting his sister Peggy (played by Evalyn Knapp) on a ranch in the fictional town of Rawhide, Montana. The film remains available on DVD and VHS formats.The Pride of the Yankees
The Pride of the Yankees is a 1942 American film produced by Samuel Goldwyn, directed by Sam Wood, and starring Gary Cooper, Teresa Wright, and Walter Brennan. It is a tribute to the legendary New York Yankees first baseman Lou Gehrig, who died only one year before its release, at age 37, from amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, which later became known to the lay public as "Lou Gehrig's disease".
Though subtitled "The Life of Lou Gehrig", the film is less a sports biography than an homage to a heroic and widely loved sports figure whose tragic and premature death touched the entire nation. It emphasizes Gehrig's relationship with his parents (particularly his strong-willed mother), his friendships with players and journalists, and his storybook romance with the woman who became his "companion for life," Eleanor. Details of his baseball career—which were still fresh in most fans' minds in 1942—are limited to montages of ballparks, pennants, and Cooper swinging bats and running bases, though Gehrig's best-known major league record—2,130 consecutive games played—is prominently cited.
Yankee teammates Babe Ruth, Bob Meusel, Mark Koenig, and Bill Dickey play themselves, as does sportscaster Bill Stern. The film was adapted by Herman J. Mankiewicz, Jo Swerling, and an uncredited Casey Robinson from a story by Paul Gallico, and received 11 Oscar nominations. Its climax is a re-enactment of Gehrig's poignant 1939 farewell speech at Yankee Stadium. The film's iconic closing line—"Today, I consider myself the luckiest man on the face of the Earth"—was voted 38th on the American Film Institute's list of 100 greatest movie quotes.The Sporting News Most Valuable Player Award
The Sporting News established The Sporting News Most Valuable Player Award in 1929. The award was given annually to the player judged by TSN baseball experts as being the most valuable in each league. The awards were discontinued in 1946.Yankeeography
Yankeeography is a biography-style television program that chronicles the lives and careers of the players, coaches, and other notable personnel associated with the New York Yankees Major League Baseball team. The series is aired on the YES Network and is produced by MLB Productions. The series is hosted by Yankees radio personality John Sterling. The series has earned five New York Sports Emmy Awards since its inception. In addition to airing on YES, MLB Productions has packaged many of the shows into DVD boxed sets.
After debuting as a weekly show with the 2002 launch of YES, Yankeeography only debuts new episodes periodically (as there are fewer prominent Yankees yet to be spotlighted). For instance, four episodes premiered in 2006: Tino Martinez, David Cone, the Yankees' 1996 World Series team, and Billy Martin. All Yankees with retired numbers have had shows completed with the exception of Bill Dickey. The show has been criticized for producing episodes on players who remain active while Hall of Famers from much earlier eras such as Jack Chesbro, Tony Lazzeri, Red Ruffing and Lefty Gomez were not profiled. Some profiles have been updated to reflect new developments.