Lou Gehrig Biography
Lou Gehrig biography: his life and baseball accomplishments.
Henry Louis Gehrig was born on June 19, 1903 in New York, New York. His parents were German immigrants who came to New York in 1900. Gehrig was a star on the Commerce High School baseball team in Manhattan. His senior year, Commerce won the city championship and went to Chicago to play Lane Tech at Wrigley Field. Gehrig hit a grad slam to assist Commerce in a 12-6 victory. At Columbia University, Gehrig was a star baseball player although he originally attended college on a football scholarship. John McGraw of the New York Giants illegally signed Gehrig off the Columbia campus to have him play under an assumed name for a Hartford minor league club in 1921. Gehrig was still attending Columbia so once the ruse was discovered his contract was cancelled.
New York Yankee scout Paul Krichell gave Gehrig a $1500 bonus and a salary of $3000 to sign with the Yankees in June of 1923. The Yankees had an agreement with Hartford of the Eastern League so Gehrig played for Hartford in 1923 and 1924 and finished each season with the Yankees. He became a permanent Yankee in 1925 after swinging an impressive bat during spring training.
Gehrig was primarily a benchwarmer for the first part of the 1925 season. On June 1, 1925, Gehrig pinch-hit for Peewee Wanninger and the following day he filled in for regular first baseman Wally Pipp who was feeling ill. Gehrig did not come out of the starting lineup for the next fourteen years. He played 2130 consecutive games between June 1, 1925 and April 30, 1939. Gehrig continued to play despite fractured fingers, charley horses, spike wounds, back pain, sore muscles and other illnesses that came up.
On May 2, 1939, Gehrig removed himself from the starting lineup due to extreme illness. He received a standing ovation and returned to the dugout in tears. A few weeks later he was diagnosed with Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis, a serious and fatal disease. ALS is now widely known as Lou Gehrig's disease. Gehrig never returned to play baseball.
Gehrig's career may have been somewhat overshadowed by his famous teammates Babe Ruth and Joe DiMaggio but nevertheless he was voted the "Greatest First Baseman Ever" in 1969. While with the Yankees, he won six World Series Championships and also played on six American League All-Star teams. He won two of the American League's Most Valuable Player awards, one in 1927 and the other in 1936. On June 3, 1932 he became the first modern day slugger to hit four home runs in a single game. Gehrig was the first ever Yankee to win the prestigious Triple Crown award in 1934. He also holds the American League RBI record with 184 during 1931 season. Gehrig was elected to the Baseball Hall of Fame in 1939. His uniform #4 was retired on July 4, 1939 in front of a crowd of over 61, 800 who attended "Lou Gehrig Appreciation Day" at Yankee Stadium.
Gehrig died on June 2, 1941 in Riverdale, New York after all long and difficult battle with ALS. He was just under 3 weeks away from his 38th birthday. An urn containing his ashes was buried at Kensico Cemetery in Valhalla, New York.