Lou Gehrig Lou Gehrig was born and raised in New York City, the son of German immigrant parents. His full name was Henry Louis Gehrig. After graduating from high school, he attended Columbia University where he became a football and baseball star. Lou’s father directed him to becoming a pro baseball player. He became sick and needed on operation, but there was no money for doctors and hospital expenses in the family budget, so young Lou quickly capitalized on his baseball skills. He accepted an offer from a scout to sign a contract with the New York Yankees, for $ 1,500 in cash as a bonus.
Lou dropped out of college to play in the minor leagues and gain some experience until the Yankees needed him. Gehrig was 22 when he became a big league rookie. He sat on the bench until one day in June in the 1925 season when he finally broke into the Yankees’ line up as a first baseman. It happened because the team’s veteran first baseman couldn’t play because of a sever headache. He stayed first baseman for fourteen seasons, five thousand eighty-two playing days, he played a total of two thousand, one hundred and thirty major league games.
It was a record that will never be broken or even equaled. To create that unbelievable endurance, feat, strong and powerful Lou Gehrig nicknamed “The Iron Horse,” played in every one of the two thousand, one hundred and thirty consecutive games, even though he was beaned three times, had fingers broken ten times, suffered fractured toes, torn muscles, a wrenched shoulder, a back injury, chipped elbows, and the pain of several lumbago attacks. Yet, in every contest of that incredibly long playing period he played with all the enthusiasm of a kid breaking into the big leagues. During that streak of 2,130 consecutive games “The Iron Horse” performed other astonishing feats. He became the first in the 20th century to hit four consecutive home runs in a nine-inning game.
Only he in major-league history hit 23 grand slam home runs for 13 years in a row he drove in one hundred runs, topping 150 RBI’s seven times and setting the American League record of 184 runs batted-in during the 1931 season for twelve seasons in a row he hit more than .300, and he made 1,991 runs, scored 1,888 runs, and walked 1,510 times. He won the coveted “Triple Crown” of the majors, the Most Valuable Player award, made 2,721 safe hits for a life time batting average of .340. His magnificent playing helped the Yankees win seven pennants and six World Series championships. Though he had begun in the big leagues as a clumsy, poor-fielding first baseman, “Larruping Lou,” as he also came to be known, over came his faults through perseverance, patience, tireless practice and hard work, and blossomed out into a smooth and skillful a first baseman as ever lived. More than all this, though he never was flamboyant nor spectacular, and never sought the headlines, clean-living Gehrig of exemplary habits became an idolized and inspirational hero to many boys throughout America.
Ironically, “The Iron Horse,” the strongest and most durable big-league player of his time, became a victim of cruel fate. When Gehrig was 36 and still in his prime, he was felled by a mysterious disease that robbed him of his strength, power, and coordination. Puzzled doctors diagnosed this illness as amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, a form of paralysis affecting the spinal cord. It is now referred to as “Gehrig’s disease.” On a May afternoon in that 1939 season he benched him self as the Yankees first baseman because he could no longer help his team. He wept when it happened and never played again.
On a July 4th afternoon of that memorable season more than 75,000 loyal fans flocked into the vast Yankees’ ball park to pay homage to Gehrig and bid him farewell. Although the fabled “Iron Horse” knew that he was dying, he stood at home plate and told the huge hushed throng: “Fans they tell me I’ve been given a bad break. But I’ve got wonderful parents, a wife who loves me, and I’ve played baseball with the greatest teammate a ball player could ever hope for. I’ve had my share of good things in life. With all the good I’ve had, today, I consider myself to be the luckiest man on the face of this earth.” Less than two years later Lou Gehrig was dead at age 38.
A nation mourned for him. Baseball’s Hall of Fame immortalized him. His locker in the Yankee’s club house was turned into a shrine. No Yankee ever again wore Gehrig’s famed number 4 on a baseball uniform.