Lou Gehrig (Ludwig Heinrich Gehrig)
Photos with Lou Gehrig
BiographyNew York City, New York, USA
Lou Gehrig is remembered as baseball's "Iron Horse" and used to own the major league record for the 2,130 consecutive games that he played for the New York Yankees between 1925 and 1939, where he had a .340 career batting average, making him one of the greatest hitters of all time. Henry Louis Gehrig was born in the Yorkville section of Manhattan, New York City on June 19, 1903. His parents, Heinrich and Christina Gehrig, were German immigrants. Of their four children, Lou was the only one who survived to adulthood. Read more... until he married at the age of 30. Lou attended New York public schools, including the High School of Commerce, where he excelled in baseball, football and swimming. In his senior year, Lou's school won New York's public school baseball championship. They played Chicago's best high school team at Wrigley Field in 1920. The game was a portrait of what was to come: with the bases loaded and two outs in the 9th inning, Lou crushed a 3-2 pitch over the right field to win the game. To fulfill his parents' dream, Lou enrolled at New York's Columbia University in 1922. Because he had briefly played for a professional baseball club the preceding summer, Lou was barred from athletic competitions at Columbia for a year. After sitting out the year, Lou started on the college's baseball and football squads, earning him the nickname "Columbia Lou." When his father lost his job and his mother fell ill, Lou decided to leave college for a professional baseball career. In June 1923, the New York Yankees signed him to a minor league contract. He was assigned to the team's Hartford, Connecticut, farm club where he played for two seasons. Lou was then inserted into the Yankee lineup on June 1, 1925 substituting for their regular first baseman, Wally Pipp. For the next 14 years, Lou did not miss a single game. Even though Lou made an immediate impression in the majors, leading the American League with 20 triples in his second season, it was in 1927 that this six-foot, 210-pound left-hander blossomed as a slugger. He challenged teammate Babe Ruth for the league's home run title. By the end of the season, Lou had hit 47 home runs to Babe Ruth's 60, earning second place. That year, Lou hit .373 and set a major league record by racking up 175 RBIs. Not surprisingly, Lou was voted the league's Most Valuable Player. He also helped the Yankees to win the 1927 World Series against the Pittsburgh Pirates. True to his form, Lou had almost decided to sit out the entire series to stay by his ill mother's side. For the next 13 consecutive seasons, Lou knocked more than 100 home runs, and slugged 46 home runs with 184 RBIs in 1931. On June 3, 1932, Lou hit four home runs in one game against the Philadelphia Athletics, setting another major league record. In 1933, Lou married Eleanor Twitchell, who helped him withstand the rigors of professional baseball. On the eve of his 2,000th consecutive game in 1938, Eleanor suggested that Lou was getting compulsive about the streak and advised him to end his career at 1,999 games. Despite his wife's good intentions, Lou would not be deterred and appeared there and at 130 more games. During 1939 spring training Lou began to experience weakness and problems with coordination. On May 2, 1939, Lou's consecutive game streak finally ended when he removed himself from the team. Suspecting something more than his training was making him feel worn out, Lou entered the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minnesota for health tests and on June 19, 1939, his 36th birthday, Lou was diagnosed with amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, a rare incurable muscular disorder which causes the muscular motor functions to degenerate, resulting in atrophying muscles, which in turn can lead to paralysis and ultimately death. New York mayor Fiorello LaGuardia named Lou the city's parole commissioner upon his retirement from baseball in 1939, a job he held until his declining health confided him to his bed in early 1941. Lou Gehrig finally passed away from ALS on June 2, 1941 at the age of 37. His universal renown was so great that amyotrophic lateral sclerosis later became known as Lou Gehrig's Disease.