Lou Gehrig – ALS Hero
Lou Gehrig has a “rags to riches” kind of story. He was born to poor German immigrants who moved to New York City just a few years before his birth. While his father struggled to stay sober and keep a job, his mother cleaned houses and cooked meals for wealthy New Yorkers to create a better life for her family.
Growing up, Gehrig proved to be a gifted athlete, excelling in both football and baseball. He attended Columbia University on a football scholarship and planned to pursue a degree in engineering. Two years later he made the school’s baseball team, caught the eye of MLB scouts with his powerful left-handed hitting, and eventually signed a contract with the New York Yankees.
Gehrig’s baseball career was nothing short of amazing! He was an All-Star seven consecutive times and won six World Series championships with the Yankees. He broke several baseball records and became known as the “Iron Horse” after he played in 2,130 consecutive games. It seemed like nothing would ever stop Gehrig from being the best baseball player to ever play the game.
In 1938, however, Gehrig finished what could be considered a subpar season for the legendary first baseman. “I tired mid-season. I don’t know why, but I just couldn’t get going again.” When tying his shoes became difficult, he feared he might be facing something serious. On May 2, 1939, Gehrig took himself out of the Yankee lineup “for the good of the team.” A month later, he checked into the Mayo Clinic in Rochester and was diagnosed with ALS.
Gehrig returned to Yankee Stadium on July 4th to thank his fans. In what would eventually be known as his “Luckiest Man on Earth” speech, Gehrig told the crowd, “I might have been given a bad break, but I have an awful lot to live for.”
Major League Baseball immediately inducted Gehrig into its Hall of Fame and retired his uniform, making him the first baseball player to ever receive such an honor. Two years later, on June 2, 1942, Gehrig passed away at his home in New York City.