75 Years Ago, Lou Gehrig Took a Seat

Originally published on May 2, 2014

On May 2, 1939 - 75 years ago today - Yankee first baseman Lou Gehrig trotted the lineup card to the umpiring crew. Nothing unusual there, as the Yankee captain he always did that. However, for the first time in 2,130 straight games, his name wasn't in the starting lineup. The Iron Horse's otherworldly streak of consecutive games played had come to an end. Due to the effects of ALS (amyotropic lateral sclerosis), a rare form of degenerative disease, now commonly known as "Lou Gehrig's Disease", he would never play again.

One of the greatest baseball players of all time, Gehrig amassed a collection of gaudy numbers including a .340 lifetime batting average, 493 home runs, 2,721 hits, and 1,995 RBI's. He was a two-time MVP, including the magical 1927 season in which teammate Babe Ruth hit 60 home runs. Gehrig also won the Triple Crown in 1934, hit an MLB record 23 grand slams, and still holds the American League record for most home runs by a first baseman.

Playing much of his career overshadowed by the flamboyant and legendary Ruth, Gehrig is widely considered the greatest first baseman of all time. He is responsible for the greatest baseball speech ever given with the unforgettable, "...luckiest man on the face of the Earth" speech held later that summer. Lou Gehrig was elected to the Baseball Hall of Fame in 1939 and his #4 was retired by the Yankees - the first time this honor had been given to a player.