Lou Gehrig was one of the best players ever to grace the Yankees stadium, but sadly for the iconic first baseman, he had to end his career early. Known as the Iron Horse, Gehrig said a tearful goodbye to his loving fans in New York after 16 successful years. Here’s why he had fans in tears.
The Iron Horse
There was a reason why Yankees fans called Gehrig the Iron Horse. He had a long career and played in 2,130 consecutive games, a feat only broken once by Cal Ripken Jr. in 1998. Gehrig helped the Yankees to six World Series titles, and the first baseman was named an All-Star seven times.
His career was Hall of Fame worthy as Gehrig had been the NL MVP twice, a Triple Crown winner, and the home run leader in three seasons. Then one day everything changed, and the then captain of the Yankees had to leave the glory of the baseball diamond behind.
Gehrig was made captain of the Yankees in 1935 and looked like he could carry on for a thousand games more. Just four years later in 1939, when Gehrig was 36, everything changed. He was diagnosed with amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), and his life became very different.
Fans had been reading news stories about what was happening to Gehrig, and finally, it was time for the man himself to address supporters. Over 60,000 fans were packed into the Yankees stadium to watch their team, but soon the game was forgotten about. It was time for Gehrig to speak some heartfelt words to the fans and the watching nation.
An awful lot to live for
Gehrig addressed the crowd to let them know he considered himself the “luckiest man on the face of the Earth.” He thought he was privileged to have been playing in ballparks for the past 17 years while receiving nothing but kindness from supporters. Gehrig namechecked several other people he deemed himself lucky enough to have played alongside or to have known.
Then he thanked his parents, his wife, and his mother-in-law for everything they did in getting him to MLB and beyond. Finally, he closed his speech with humbleness and humility. He said, “I may have been given a bad break, but I’ve got an awful lot to live for.” Gehrig passed away just two years later.
Leaving a legacy
As he bid a tearful goodbye to his faithful fans, there wasn’t a dry eye in the house. Gehrig then took a seat in the dugout to watch the Yankees win 11-1. 75 years later, the speech is still considered one of the most moving and important in sports history. He helped to raise awareness of ALS and has become so synonymous with it many people even call it Lou Gehrig’s disease.
Known for his integrity and character, each year the Lou Gehrig Memorial Award is given to the MLB players who best exhibits this spirit during the season. A monument to Gehrig has been placed at Yankee Stadium since 1941.