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BLOMBERG COLUMN: In wake of newly-formed Lou Gehrig Appreciation Day, a look at life, career of Yankees legend
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AROUND THE HORN

BLOMBERG COLUMN: In wake of newly-formed Lou Gehrig Appreciation Day, a look at life, career of Yankees legend

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Lou Gehrig

Lou Gehrig

On June 2, Major League Baseball celebrated the life and legacy of one of the game’s all-time greats, New York Yankees iconic first baseman Lou Gehrig.

When most baseball fans think of Gehrig, two things come to mind: His record setting streak of 2,130 conescutive games played, and his heartbreaking demise to a disease that bears his name, formally known as amyotrophic lateral sclerosis but commonly known as Lou Gehrig’s disease.

But there is so much more more to both the ballplayer and the man.

Henry Louis Gehrig was born on June 6, 1903, in New York City. He died on June 2, 1941 at his home in Riverdale, New York. His professional career spanned the years 1923-1939, all 17 years with the Yankees.

A natural power hitter who could hit the ball out of any park ever designed, Gehrig nonetheless had to work hard to improve his defensive skills. This he accomplished at Hartford, one of the Yankees minor League affiliates.

For those who are fans of statistics, the “Iron Horse” as Gehrig was known, set standards that still exist today.

In Gehrig’s MVP year of 1927, the strapping first baseman slammed 47 home runs, second only to teammate Babe Ruth, who hammered a single season record of 60. At the same time Gehrig led the American League with 52 doubles and 175 runs batted in!

Gehrig was an RBI machine and was always hungry. Five times he led the AL in RBIs, topping out with 184 in 1931, a decidedly difficult task when you consider that he batted fourth in the Yankees line-up behind Ruth who also swung a hungry bat. In addition to his league leading RBI totals, Gehrig also topped the AL four times in runs scored.

Still hungry? Here are a few more statisitical morsels to whet your appetite: Triple Crown Award, 1934 (.363, 49 HR’s, 165 RBI, 128 R); AL MVP, 1936 (.354, 49 HR’s, 152 RBI, 167 R); 4 Home runs in a single game; 23 Grand Slams, 493 HRs, 1,991 RBI, 1,888 R, .340 BA.

For a large muscular man, Gehrig was deceptively fast on the base paths, stealing 102 bases including 15 swipes of home! That was Gehrig the ballplayer. Gehrig the man was far more complex.

Gehrig was a quiet, reserved man, devoted to his wife and parents. He never craved the spotlight. Rather, he went about his daily business like any other working man. Gehrig’s job just happened to be playing first base for the New York Yankees.

Gehrig’s professional life was like that of a bug under a microscope. However, his private life was another matter, and he took great pains to protect his privacy, even when diagnosed with ALS in 1939.

It’s amazing when you think about it. Before a sea of microphones at home plate in Yankee Stadium, knowing he had been given a death sentence, Gehrig spoke of himself as being “the luckiest man on the face of the earth”. This took place on Lou Gehrig Appreciation Day, July 4, 1939. Two years later, on July 4, 1941, the Yankees would host a memorial game in his honor. Ironically, Gehrig’s death on June 2, 1941 came 18 years to the very day he made his Major League debut.

How many of us could have stood in Gehrig’s shoes that fateful day, knowing what he knew, and consider ourselves to be the luckiest person on earth? This was Gehrig’s true greatness, his lasting legacy, and this is what we celebrate, for now and forever.

On June 2, 2021, Major League Baseball celebrated the life and legacy of one of the game’s all-time greats, New York Yankees iconic first baseman, Lou Gehrig.

When most baseball fans think of Gehrig, two things come to mind; his record setting streak of 2,130 conescutive games played, and his heartbreaking demise to a disease that bears his name ; amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, or Lou Gehrig’s disease. But there is so much more more to both the ballplayer and the man.

Henry Louis Gehrig was born on June 6, 1903 in New York City. He died on June 2, 1941 at his home in Riverdale, NY. His professional career spanned the years 1923-1939, all 17 years with the Yankees.

A natural power hitter who could hit the ball out of any park ever designed, Gehrig none-the-less had to work hard to improve his defensive skills. This he accomplished at Hartford, one of the Yankees minor League affiliates.

For those fans of statistics, the ‘Iron Horse’ as Gehrig was known, set standards that still exist today.

In Gehrig’s MVP year of 1927, the strapping first baseman slammed 47 home runs, second only to teammate Babe Ruth, who hammered a single season record of 60. At the same time Gehrig led the American League with 52 doubles and 175 runs batted in!

Gehrig was an RBI machine and was always hungry. Five times he led the AL in RBI’S, topping out with 184 in 1931, a decidedly difficult task when you consider that he batted fourth in the Yankees line-up behind Ruth who also swung a hungry bat. In addition to his league leading RBI totals, Gehrig also topped the AL four times in runs scored.

Still hungry? Here are a few more statisitical morsels to whet your appetite: Triple Crown Award, 1934 (.363, 49 HR’s, 165 RBI, 128 R); AL MVP, 1936 (.354, 49 HR’s, 152 RBI, 167 R) ; 4 Home runs in s single game ; 23 Grand Slams, 493 HR’s, 1991 RBI, 1888 R, ,340 BA, all lifetime!

For a large muscular man, Gehrig was deceptively fast on the base paths, stealing 102 bases including 15 swipes of home! That was Gehrig the ballplayer. Gehrig the man was far more complex.

Gehrig was a quiet, reserved man, devoted to his wife and parents. He never craved the spotlight. Rather, he went about his daily business like any other working man. Gehrig’s job just happened to be playing first base for the New York Yankees.

Gehrig’s professional life was like that of a bug under a microscope. However, his private life was another matter, and he took great pains to protect his privacy, even when diagnosed with ALS in 1939.

It’s amazing when you think about it. Before a sea of microphones at home plate in Yankee Stadium, knowing he had been given a death sentence, Gehrig spoke of himself as being “the luckiest man on the face of the earth”. This took place on Lou Gehrig Appreciation Day, July 4, 1939. Two years later, on July 4, 1941, the Yankees would host a memorial game in his honor. Ironically, Gehrig’s death on June 2, 1941 came 18 years to the very day he made his Major League debut.

How many of us could have stood in Gehrig’s shoes that fateful day, knowing what he knew, and consider ourselves to be the luckiest person on earth? This was Gehrig’s true greatness, his lasting legacy, and this is what we celebrate, for now and forever.

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