The Importance of Lou Gehrig in the 1920’s
The Importance of Lou Gehrig in the 1920’s Louis Henry Gehrig was born in the Yorkville subdivision of Manhattan, New York City on June 19, 1903. His parents, Heinrich and Christina Gehrig were both natives of Germany. Lou’s father was an ironworker, and occasionally worked as a tinsmith, mechanic, and a janitor. Lou’s mother worked hard holding odd jobs by cleaning houses and doing other chores. Louis was the only one of the Gehrig’s children to survive infancy (Graff, 294). Lou Gehrig was significant to the 1920’s, and the 1930’s due to the fact that he changed the history of baseball, he showed his positivity which allowed him to face a disease which is now commonly known as Lou Gehrig’s disease, and the tremendous inspiration he was to his peers and his teammates.
Lou Gehrig’s athletic talent was recognized fairly early when he was noticed by Buck O’Neill, the Columbia College football coach. Gehrig was convinced to attend school, and play football, and baseball at Columbia College (Graff, 294). He was eventually pulled from participating in all athletics due to the fact that he had played professional baseball with the Hartford team while attending Columbia College. He stopped playing professional ball, and in 1922 he became a member of the Columbia baseball team. Just a year later, his performance sparked the attention of Paul Krichell, the scout for the New York Yankees (Graff, 294).
After two years of conditioning and training, Lou became a permanent member of the New York Yankee’s baseball team. On June 1, 1925, Lou was entered in a game as a pinch hitter. The next day, he was the starting first baseman (Graff, 294). In 1926, Lou respectively earned the fourth spot in the batting line up where he stayed at that spot for every regular game the Yankees played. While hitting in the cleanup spot, he hit 493 homeruns, 23 of them being grand slams.
On June 3, 1932, Gehrig hit four homeruns in one game against the Philadelphia Athletics (Graff, 294). Lou hit in 1,995 runs, and maintained a .340 batting average. He hit an average of .300 or better, and he drove in more than 150 runs in each season he played. Gehrig had a .
632 slugging percentage, and a .447 on-base percentage. (Robinson, 683). Gehrig was a part of the 1936, 1937, and 1938 World Series championships. He was elected Most Valuable Player for the American League in 1927, 1931, 1934, and 1936.
In 1939, he was voted into the baseballs’ Hall of Fame in Cooperstown, New York. Lou was commonly known by his fans as the “Iron Horse” because of his durability and consistency while hitting (Robinson). Towards the end of 1938 and the beginning of 1939, Lou began to deteriorate physically. He noticed that his batting average was at an all time low, and he was playing very poorly in the field. He played his last game on April 30, 1939 against the Washington Senators. After finishing that game, he asked to be pulled from the lineup due to his inability to further perform.
In June of 1939, he was admitted into the Mayo Clinic in Minnesota to be under further watch, and continued testing. Test results were received and it showed that Gehrig had been suffering from amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, which is a hardening of the spinal cord creating symptoms similar to infantile paralysis (Rose). This disease had no known cure at the time, and it was progressing quickly. Lou’s showed courage by accepting the end to his career because of this fatal disease which added reasons for his heroic state (Graff, 294). Although he could not play, Gehrig served as a captain for the remainder of the season for the New York Yankees.
On June 4, 1939 an “Appreciation Day” was held in honor of Louis Gehrig where all former teammates attended along with 60,000 fans (Graff, 294). At first, Gehrig was unable to respond due to overwhelming emotions that brought him to the point of tears. Eventually he began to recite a speech explaining his appreciation for all of his supporters, and fans. He continued by saying “Today, I consider myself the luckiest man on the face of the earth. I might have had a tough break, but I have a lot to live for (Gehrig, The Sporting News, 685).
” Two years later on June 2, 1941, Louis Henry Gehrig passed away from the fatal disease he had so well fought (James). “He was a special man who articulated the best of the human spirit (Rubin, 683).”Lou Gehrig was known as an inspiration to his peers and his teammates because of his humble attitude and willingness to share his knowledge of the game with others (Burns). Often being overshadowed by Babe Ruth, Gehrig did not mind it. He rarely wanted to be in the spotlight, and was referred to as “a quiet hero” (Graham, 683).
Helping with many boys’ baseball clubs, he was able to share his knowledge and passion of the game with boys who admired him the most (Graff, 295). After he was diagnosed with amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, he did not give in to self-pity, instead he put on a strong face and showed people that he did not want them to feel sorry for him because he had been blessed and thankful for the opportunities he had previously received (Rubin, 683). “Gehrig earned applause for his love of home, his dedicated effort to excel as a fielder, his physical durability, and the model of character he set for the youth of his day (Graff, 295).” Lou Gehrig was an influential athlete who changed the competitiveness and the overall game of baseball by setting records in hitting as well as being an outstanding first baseman. Gehrig learned not to fall into self-pity after being diagnosed with his fatal disease, he continued to do the things he loved, but in a different way. He made adjustments and continued to stay positive and inspire others to keep a positive attitude in all circumstances as well.
Lou Gehrig was significant to the 1920’s, and the 1930’s due to the fact that he changed the history of baseball, he showed his positivity which allowed him to face a disease which is now commonly known as Lou Gehrig’s disease, and the tremendous inspiration he was to his peers and his teammates.