By August 23rd, 1933, New York Yankees first baseman Lou Gehrig played in his 1,308th consecutive game, breaking former Yankee Everett Scott’s record for consecutive games played. He would go on to play in 2,130 games in a row, setting a record that would stand for over half a century.
Henry Louis Gehrig was born June 19, 1903, in New York City, the only child of German immigrants to survive childhood illness. His doting parents stressed education over sports, and he attended Columbia University on a football scholarship and studied engineering. After his freshman year, Gehrig played for New York Giants Manager John McGraw in a summer league under the name Henry Lewis; he lost a year of eligibility at Columbia when his ruse was discovered. Gehrig was then signed by a Yankees scout while playing first base at Columbia, against the advice of Giants fans who believed their skipper had let the talented slugger get away. Gehrig joined the Yankees in 1923, but didn’t see any action until 1925. According to legend, Gehrig stepped in at first base when star Wally Pipp benched himself with a headache. Gehrig didn’t miss a game for the next 13 years, and Pipp never made it back on to the field. To this day, to be “Wally Pipped” is to be replaced for good.
Gehrig set his endurance record against the Browns in St. Louis more than eight seasons after the streak began on June 1, 1925. He was honored after the first inning, when Browns and Yankees players surrounded him at home plate and he was presented with a silver trophy by American League President William Harridge. The Yankees went on to lose the game in 10 innings, 7-6, in spite of home runs from Babe Ruth and Bill Dickey.
For his career, Gehrig’s offensive output was as extraordinary as his consecutive games streak. The left-handed slugger led the American League in RBIs five times and drove in at least 100 runs 13 years in a row. He led the AL in home runs three times, runs four times and in hitting once. On June 3, 1932, Gehrig became the first player to homer four times in a single game. In the Yankees first golden era, Gehrig batted cleanup, right after Babe Ruth, the bigger star of the two. It was Gehrig, however, who was named American League MVP in 1927, on a Yankee team considered the greatest team in history. He won the award again in 1936, another championship year for the Yankees. In all, Gehrig helped the Yankees to six World Series titles.
In 1938 Gehrig’s batting average dropped below .300 for the first time in his career and he began to experience chronic illness. As his strength continued to dwindle and doctors struggled to diagnose him, Gehrig took himself out of many games. He was eventually diagnosed with amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), a rare degenerative disease now often called Lou Gehrig’s disease. He retired and was elected to the Hall of Fame in 1939 and died just two years later.
May God bless those with ALS and the ones doing the IBC. Our prayers are with both. Our prayers are also with the firefighters who were critically injured while trying to help students complete their IBC.
My friend, Ally, defines ALS this way:
ALS = AMYOTROPHIC LATERAL SCLEROSIS (Lou Gehrig’s disease) is a nasty, horrible disease. ALS stands for Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS), and is often called Lou Gehrig’s Disease. It is a progressive neurodegenerative disease that affects nerve cells in the brain and the spinal cord. People with ALS eventually become completely paralyzed and are unable to breathe on their own. Although the life expectancy of an ALS patient averages about two to five years from the time of diagnosis, this disease is variable and many people live with quality for five years and more. More than half of all patients live more than three years after diagnosis.
I asked my group, A SECOND HELPING OF WELLNESS… WITH A DASH OF HUMOR & A PINCH OF FAITH what they thought about the Ice Bucket Challenges to raise money for ALS. The general opinion is that if they can have some fun for a good cause, then what’s the harm? I’m glad the money is coming in, but admit that I’m concerned about the challenges where safety is concerned.
Let me just inject something here. This is a friendly observation from the sidelines. The idea is to be splashed with the ice water – not be knocked senseless by the bucket. Ok… then there’s this:
I kept waiting for that big glass bowl to fall on his head. Glad that didn’t happen. 🙂
It seems charities go in waves. Back in the 1960’s the big charity was March of Dimes – anyone remember that one? We literally marched all over the neighborhood collecting change from our neighbors for them. Hey, does anyone remember The Walk for Mankind in the 1970’s? Yep – did that too.
We tend to support the charities that hit home with us the most – it’s only natural. I support the cancer research, particularly pancreas, colon and ovarian. I also support the ADA and AHA.
The ice bucket challenge makes me concerned about safety. People are getting bonked in the head with large buckets – that’s gotta hurt! I just want to play Mama with you guys – please have fun and raise lots of money – but be safe! The last article I read said that there has been over 5 million dollars raised so far. Well done! 🙂