Thursday, April 30, 2009

Hall of Fame Thursday - Lou Gehrig

1979 TCMA #46 Lou Gehrig

Seventy years ago today Lou Gehrig played his 2130th consecutive game. It would be the final game Gehrig would ever play.

He played every Yankees game for nearly 14 years. Just for good measure he threw in 34 World Series games as a member of 6 Yankees World Championship Teams (1927, 28, 32, and 36-38). To help try and grasp what 2130 cards consists of, I took the Lou Gehrig card above and reduced it to 10% of actual size and then created 2130 copies of it. Just think if they were real cards the composite would be 10 times this size.

2130 Lou Gehrig Mini Minis (click to enlarge)

A lot of us became more familiar with Gehrig when Cal Ripken Jr approached, and then passed Gehrig, during his own consecutive game streak. It is hard for me to believe it is almost 14 years since the Iron Man passed the Iron Horse. There are many other records and accomplishments for which Lou Gehrig should be known in addition to the streak. He collected 2721 hits while mashing 493 Homers. His career BA was an impressive .340. His Career RBI (1995) and Run Scored (1888) totals still rank in the top 10 All time.

It's been 70 years since Lou Gehrig played his final game and there remains no cure for the diseases which now frequently is referenced by his Name. Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS) is a disease that destroys the body while leaving the mind in tact - It frequently affects young men - Lou Gehrig was taken by ALS as the age of 37. Physicist Stephen Hawking is a well known ALS patient. Last fall phungo ran on obituary on 1970s era Minnesota Vikings linebacker Wally Hilgenberg who succumbed to the disease.

In Philadelphia baseball circles the fight against ALS is prominently waged by one time Phillies Pitcher Curt Schilling. Schill is an historian of the game and named his first son Gehrig after the baseball icon. Curt and his wife Shonda are both active in fund rasing efforts to raise money for ALS research.

Since 1984 ALS has been the Phils Primary Charity. Each year the team hosts an ALS benefit inviting the public to meet, greet players, and recieve autographs in exchange for their contributions. I have not seen a date posted for this years ALS event yet.

In one final Phillies Lou Gehrig connection, we mention Shane Victorino who recieved this years Lou Gehrig Award sponsored by the Phi Delta Theta Fraternity - which Gehrig was a member of at Columbia University. The award is given annually to the player who "Best Exemplifies the Giving Character of Lou Gehrig". Victorino is scheduled to recieve the award prior to the Phillies 4th of July game versus the New York Mets.

That day, July 4th 2009, will be the 70th anniversary of Lou Gehrig's "Luckiest Man on the Face of the Earth" - click the link - It is likely very few of us are old enough to have heard it at the time, yet we have all heard it countless times. It still a chill giver. The text of the speech can be found here.

The information for this article has come from several sources including Wikipedia, Baseball-Reference, and Retrosheet.

a thousand words

a thousand words
2008 World Champions