Henry Louis “Buster” Gehrig (June 19, 1903 – June 2, 1941) was an American baseball first baseman who played 17 seasons in Major League Baseball for the New York Yankees, from 1923 through 1939. Gehrig was renowned for his prowess as a hitter and for his durability, a trait that earned him his nickname “The Iron Horse”.
In 1939, he was elected to the Baseball Hall of Fame and was the first MLB player to have his uniform number (4) retired by a team. In 1938, Gehrig began having difficulty with tying his shoelaces and maintaining his winning streak on the ball field. The following year, he visited the famed Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minnesota, where doctors diagnosed him with ALS. Gehrig decided to retire from the Yankees that year. Gehrig’s streak ended on May 2, 1939, when he voluntarily took himself out of the lineup to stunned fans after his play was hampered by amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS). The disease forced him to retire at age 36 and was the cause of his death two years later.
“Don’t think I am depressed or pessimistic about my condition at present”, Lou Gehrig wrote following his retirement from baseball. Struggling against his ever-worsening physical condition, he added, “I intend to hold on as long as possible and then if the inevitable comes, I will accept it philosophically and hope for the best. That’s all we can do.” Upon hearing the news, Babe Ruth and his wife Claire went to the Gehrig house to console Eleanor, on June 2, 1941.
The Gehrigs had no children during their eight-year marriage. Eleanor never remarried, and was quoted as saying, “I had the best of it. I would not have traded two minutes of my life with that man for 40 years with another.” She dedicated the remainder of her life to supporting ALS research. She died 43 years after Lou on March 6, 1984.
When you have a father and a mother who work all their lives so you can have an education and build your body – it’s a blessing. Lou Gehrig