Henry Louis “Lou” Gehrig (June 19, 1903 – June 2, 1941), nicknamed “The Iron Horse” for his durability, played his entire 17-year baseball career (1923-1939) at first base for the New York Yankees. He played the game when baseball was filled with infamously rough and colorful characters, yet he displayed an uncommon modesty and honor both on and off the field. Gehrig is remembered for his prowess as a hitter and his consecutive games-played record, which went unbroken until 1995. But Gehrig’s dignity, courage, perseverance, and gratitude—during times of fame and times of personal tragedy—are what set him apart as an American hero.
Today Gehrig is best remembered for his emotional farewell from baseball at age 36, when he was stricken with ALS, now often called Lou Gehrig’s Disease. He gave a speech to a packed Yankee Stadium on July 4, 1939, which famously included the lines “…today I consider myself the luckiest man on the face of this earth.” (Video of Lou Gehrig's farewell speech.) ALS claimed his life just two years later.
Over a 15-season span from 1925 through 1939, Gehrig played in 2,130 consecutive games, leading to his being elected to the Baseball Hall of Fame in 1939. In 1969, he was voted the greatest first baseman of all time by the Baseball Writer’s Association and was the leading vote-getter on the Major League Baseball All-Century Team, chosen by fans in 1999.
Gehrig accumulated 1,995 runs batted in (RBI) in 17 seasons, with a career batting average of .340, on-base percentage of .447, slugging percentage of .632, and the current major league record for most career grand slams (23). Three of the top six RBI seasons in baseball history belong to Gehrig. He was selected to each of the first seven All-Star games, and he won the American League’s Most Valuable Player award in 1927 and 1936. He was also a Triple Crown winner in 1934, leading the American League in batting average, home runs, and RBIs.
The Alexanders chose to honor Lou Gehrig and the example he set for all people living with ALS by naming their foundation after him…LiveLikeLou.org. Gehrig was one of the greatest baseball players who ever lived, and in his own words had “…an awful lot to live for.” Even when faced with great personal challenge, he showed quiet grace.