Tag Archives: the iron horse

Dec. 7, 1939 – Lou Gehrig was elected to the Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum

Lou Gehrig was the first player to have the rule waived that required a player to be retired one year before he could be elected. At age 36, he was the second youngest player to be so honored (behind Sandy Koufax). He never had a formal induction ceremony. On July 28, 2013, he and eleven other deceased players 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.

Did You Know:
Gehrig was the first baseball player to have his uniform number retired?

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Aug. 20, 1938 – Lou Gehrig hits record 23rd, and last, grand slam of his career

Lou Gehrig and Alex Rodriguez hit 23 career grand slams, the most by any player in Major League Baseball history. Meanwhile, Don Mattingly set the one-season record with six grand slams in 1987 – remarkably, the only grand slams of his major league career. Travis Hafner tied Mattingly’s Major League record in 2006.

Do you think Rodriguez will break Gehrig’s record? Would modern pitchers throw to Gehrig or would they walk in a bases loaded run? What do you think?

Career Grand Slam leaders:
23 – Lou Gehrig
23 – Alex Rodríguez
21 – Manny Ramírez
19 – Eddie Murray
18 – Willie McCovey
18 – Robin Ventura
17 – Carlos Lee
17 – Jimmie Foxx
17 – Ted Williams
16 – Hank Aaron
16 – Dave Kingman
16 – Babe Ruth
15 – Ken Griffey, Jr.
15 – Richie Sexson
14 – Jason Giambi
14 – Gil Hodges
14 – Mark McGwire
14 – Mike Piazza

June 21, 1939 – Lou Gehrig retires after doctors reveal he has amyotrophic lateral sclerosis

That July 4 became “Lou Gehrig Appreciation Day” at Yankee Stadium, the day Lou Gehrig delivered his “Luckiest Man” Farewell Speech:

“Fans, for the past two weeks you have been reading about a bad break I got. Yet today, I consider myself the luckiest man on the face of the earth. I have been in ballparks for seventeen years and I have never received anything but kindness and encouragement from you fans. Look at these grand men. Which of you wouldn’t consider it the highlight of his career just to associate with them for even one day? Sure I’m lucky. Who wouldn’t have considered it an honor to have known Jacob Ruppert? Also, the builder of baseball’s greatest empire, Ed Barrows? 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 #NewYork 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 groundskeeper and those boys in white coats remember you with trophies, that’s something. When you have a father and mother work all their lives so that 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. I consider myself the luckiest man on the face of the Earth. And I might have been given a bad break, but I’ve got an awful lot to live for.”

May 2, 1939 – Lou Gehrig set an MLB record playing in his 2,130th game

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The streak began on June 1, 1925. Lou 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 were the Yankees as a team, so Huggins made several lineup changes to boost their performance. 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

  • On April 23, 1933, a pitch by Washington Senators pitcher Earl Whitehill struck Gehrig in the head. Although almost knocked unconscious, Gehrig remained in the game.
  • On June 14, 1933, Gehrig was ejected from a game, along with manager Joe McCarthy, but he had already been at bat and received credit for playing the game.
  • In a June, 1934 exhibition game, Gehrig was hit by a pitch, just above the right eye and was knocked unconscious. According to news reports, he was out for five minutes. Helmets were not heavily introduced until the 1940’s. He left the game, but was in the lineup the next day.
  • On July 13, 1934, Gehrig suffered a “lumbago attack” and had to be assisted off the field. In the next day’s away game, he was listed in the lineup as “shortstop”, batting lead-off. In his first and only plate appearance, he singled and was promptly replaced by a pinch runner to rest his throbbing back, never taking the field. A&E’s Biography speculated that this illness, which he also described as “a cold in his back”, might have been the first symptom of his debilitating disease.

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. On the other hand, 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—even though it was not raining.

Gehrig’s record of 2,130 consecutive games played stood until September 6, 1995, when Baltimore Orioles shortstop Cal Ripken, Jr. broke it.

Apr. 26, 1931 – Lou Gehrig hit a home run but is called out for passing a runner

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This mistake cost Lou Gehrig the AL home run crown as he and Babe Ruth tied with 46 HR for the season.

In the first inning with Lyn Lary on first and two out, Lou Gehrig hit a home run into the centerfield bleachers at Griffith Stadium. However, the ball caromed back to the centerfielder. Lary returned to the dugout, evidently thinking the ball was caught. Gehrig was declared out for passing the runner and lost the homer. He ended the year tied for the lead in homers with Babe Ruth.

During the 10 seasons (1925–1934) in which Gehrig and Ruth were both Yankees and played a majority of the games, Gehrig had more home runs than Ruth only once, in 1934, when he hit 49 compared 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 RBI, 1,436 to 1,316. Gehrig had a .343 batting average, compared to .338 for Ruth.