Lou Gehrig was one of the most iconic players in the history of Major League Baseball (MLB). He is known for his incredible accomplishments on the field, and was a symbol of strength and courage in the face of adversity. He was also known for his humble attitude and commitment to the game, making him a beloved figure in baseball. But what is often forgotten is the year in which he played his last game in the MLB: 1939. This article will explore the events that led up to Gehrig’s final season and the lasting impact it had on the game.
The Career of Lou Gehrig
Lou Gehrig was born in New York City in 1903 and was signed by the New York Yankees in 1923. He quickly became a star player, helping the Yankees win six World Series titles in his 17-year career. He was a seven-time All-Star, a two-time Most Valuable Player, and a two-time Triple Crown winner. In addition, he holds the record for the most consecutive games played (2,130) and the most career grand slams (23).
The Iron Horse
Gehrig was given the nickname “The Iron Horse” due to his ability to play through pain and fatigue. He was known for his durability and his ability to play in nearly every game from 1925 to 1939. This streak was so impressive that it became known as “The Streak” and was immortalized in a special ceremony at Yankee Stadium in 1939.
In 1939, Gehrig’s health began to decline due to a condition known as amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), which would later become known as “Lou Gehrig’s disease”. Despite the decline in his health, Gehrig continued to play, appearing in 15 games, with his last appearance coming on April 30th. He was replaced in the lineup by a young rookie named Joe DiMaggio, who would go on to have a Hall of Fame career.
The Farewell Speech
On July 4th, 1939, Gehrig was honored with a day at Yankee Stadium in his honor. During the ceremony, Gehrig gave a famous speech, saying “Today, I consider myself the luckiest man on the face of the Earth.” The speech was seen as a symbol of courage and resilience, and it resonated with the fans and players alike.
The Streak Ended
On May 2nd, 1939, Gehrig’s streak of consecutive games played came to an end. He was replaced in the lineup by DiMaggio, and it would be the last time Gehrig would ever play in the MLB. This marked a somber moment in baseball history, as Gehrig was forced to retire due to his deteriorating health.
The Legacy of Lou Gehrig
The legacy of Lou Gehrig is one of courage and perseverance. He was a beloved figure in baseball and his career highlights are still remembered and celebrated today. His number (4) has been retired by the New York Yankees, and he was inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame in 1939. His final season will always be remembered as a testament to his resilience and determination, even in the face of adversity.
Impact of Lou Gehrig’s Retirement
The retirement of Lou Gehrig had a lasting impact on the game of baseball. It marked the end of an era, as Gehrig was one of the most iconic players in the history of the game. His retirement left a void in the Yankees lineup, and it would take years for the team to recover.
The retirement of Lou Gehrig had a profound impact on the Yankees, who went on to win the World Series in 1941 and 1943. However, the team suffered from a lack of offensive production and it wasn’t until the arrival of Joe DiMaggio in 1936 that the Yankees began to dominate the league again.
The Lou Gehrig Memorial Fund
The Lou Gehrig Memorial Fund was established to honor the memory of the legendary ballplayer. The fund was used to support research into ALS, as well as to provide financial assistance to those affected by the disease. It was a fitting tribute to a man who had given so much to the game of baseball.
The last year Lou Gehrig played baseball was 1939, and it was a somber moment in the history of the game. Gehrig had been a beloved figure in baseball, and his retirement marked the end of an era. Despite his illness, Gehrig continued to play, appearing in 15 games before his retirement. His legacy lives on today, and his courage in the face of adversity will always be remembered.