Lou Gehrig

From Academic Kids

Henry Louis Gehrig, born Ludwig Heinrich Gehrig (June 19, 1903June 2, 1941), was an American first baseman in Major League Baseball who played his entire career for the New York Yankees and was elected to the Baseball Hall of Fame in 1939. His career was prematurely ended by, amyotrophic lateral sclerosis a degenerative terminal illness which has come to be widely known under his name.

He was born on Manhattan island in New York City, the son of German immigrants. He attended Columbia University, where he was a member of the Phi Delta Theta fraternity. However, he could not play intercollegiate baseball due to his having played baseball for a summer professional league during his freshman year.

Gehrig was a powerful hitter, a fine fielder, and a loyal teammate. If he was not quite the player his teammate Babe Ruth was, he was a feared complement in the lineup, and a more reliable presence to the team. It was no accident that Gehrig, not Ruth, hit cleanup in the Yankees batting order.

Gehrig played from 1923 to 1939. In his career he hit 493 home runs and played in 2,130 consecutive games, an endurance record that stood until 1995 when Cal Ripken, Jr. broke it.

Gehrig's streak began when he pinch-hit for Pee-Wee Wanninger on June 1, 1925. The next day, regular first baseman Wally Pipp was benched, so Gehrig started at first base; he would remain there until 1939.

Gehrig won the American League's Most Valuable Player Award twice. The first time, in 1927, was controversial: it was the year Ruth hit 60 home runs, but Ruth was not eligible for the award under the rules of the time, having won it previously (in 1923). Gehrig did, however, lead the AL with 175 runs batted in. Gehrig won the award again in 1936, with one of his finest offensive seasons.

Though Gehrig was most famous for his consecutive-games streak, his RBI numbers are equally impressive. Gehrig holds the American League record for RBI in a season, with 184. On the all-time single-season list, Gehrig had the 2nd-highest, 4th-highest, 6th-highest and 13th-highest RBI seasons in baseball history, as well as three others in the top 40. He had at least 100 RBI in every season from 1926 to 1938-- essentially, his entire playing career. (And it wasn't close; his lowest-ever RBI total as a full-season player was 112.) Gehrig also scored over 100 runs in each of those 13 seasons. He led the American League in RBI five times, and was runner-up another four times. Lou Gehrig played in 27 winning World Series games; of those, he drove in the winning run eight times.

Gehrig is also notable for being the only player to hit 40 home runs and 40 doubles in a season three different times. He is also one of very few players to hit four home runs in a single game.

Except for his disease-shortened 1939, in which he struggled to bat 4-for-28 before retiring, Gehrig never had a seasonal batting average under .295. At the end of his career, Gehrig ranked 2nd in home runs (493), 3rd in RBI (1,995), 4th in runs (1,888), 4th in on-base percentage (.447), and 2nd in slugging (.632). He currently ranks 21st in HRs, 4th in RBI, 10th in runs, 5th in on-base, and 3rd in slugging. It should be remembered that Gehrig was just 35 years old when he retired. His final totals-- 7 home runs shy of 500, 5 RBI less than 2,000-- serve as a statistical reminder of a career unfinished.

On May 2, 1939, Gehrig played his 2,130th consecutive game — a record that stood for 56 years before Ripken broke it. He retired from the sport later that year after learning he had amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, a degenerative disease so rare that it first became widely known due to him, and is today widely known as "Lou Gehrig's disease".

His retirement speech at Yankee Stadium on July 4 of that year (for "Lou Gehrig Appreciation Day") is one of the most famous in sports history. Gehrig refused the crowd's sympathy, and declared that he considered himself "the luckiest man on the face of the earth." Babe Ruth, with whom Gehrig had not spoken for six years due to long-standing personality conflicts, hugged him, and Gehrig became the first athlete to have his jersey number (#4) retired by a team.

Gehrig died in Riverdale, New York, aged 37. He was the first in a long line of powerful Yankee sluggers who died prematurely. Ruth himself died young of cancer, as did Roger Maris and Mickey Mantle. Strangely, another Yankee great, pitcher Catfish Hunter, died of the same exceedingly rare disease that claimed Gehrig.

Gehrig is interred in Kensico Cemetery in Valhalla, New York.

The Pride of the Yankees, a 1942 film about Gehrig's life, featured Gary Cooper.

Career Statistics


External links

See also

ja:ルー・ゲーリッグ sv:Lou Gehrig


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