Passing of Lou Gehrig


On June 2, 1941, Lou Gehrig, the most eminent athlete of his time, died in New York after a two-year battle with amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS). In fifteen years with the New York Yankees, Lou Gehrig, Columbia ’25, had made an unparalleled record as a baseball player and a man.

Signing with the Yankees direct from Columbia University, he went to first base on June 2, 1925, and left on May 2, 1939, after playing 2,130 consecutive games. He played with broken fingers and toes and on days when he could hardly stand erect. Nevertheless, he held the record in grand slam home runs at twenty-three and the highest batting average in seven World Series. With his teammate Babe Ruth he shared the record for runs-batted-in.

Off the field, he was a leader in youth movements and a member of the New York Parole Commission. Modest, versatile, courageous, and chivalrous, he retired from baseball in June 1939 after a diagnosis at the Mayo Clinic. On July 4, sixty-one thousand people jammed Yankee Stadium to honor this incomparable man. His death, two years later, wrote Grantland Rice, Vanderbilt 1901, “brought on more national sorrow than almost anyone I can recall.”