June 19, 1903 Henry Louis “Lou” Gehrig was born in New York, New York. Why is this important, because Lou Gehrig would go on to become one of the most famous and beloved New Yorkers of all time setting records on the baseball diamond and setting examples for humans everywhere on how to be humble amid great success. He is also the face of ALS, more commonly referred to as “Lou Gehrig’s Disease”.
Lou Gehrig was a 1st baseman for the New York Yankees from his first game in 1923 all the way through his retirement in 1939. He was a member of the famed “Murderers’ Row” batting line-up that also included Babe Ruth. He won multiple World Series Titles and League MVP’s. His largest claim to fame however was his durability. Lou gained his nickname “The Iron Horse” by playing in 2,130 consecutive games for the Yankees. (one of the long standing records until Cal Ripken Jr. broke it in 1995) This reliability is one of the reasons his departure from the game was so surprising.
Entering the 1939 season Gehrig had been experiencing serious dips in performance due. Some just attributed it to a random slump, others could tell there was something physically wrong with him. He was always an excellent hitter and a magnificent base-runner, but both of those skills had deteriorated drastically. On May 2, 1939 Lou Gehrig asked to be benched, breaking his own streak, and effectively ending his professional career. He would never play in another game.
Gehrig then visited the famed Mayo Clinic where after several rounds of testing he was diagnosed with ALS (amyotrophic lateral sclerosis), the disease that would take his life only 2 short years later. Everyone remembers what happens next, the retirement from baseball and one of the most famous speeches in sports history, the “Luckiest Man on the Face of the Earth” speech. Lou Gehrig died only two years after his diagnosis on June 2, 1941. He was 37 years old.
Lou Gehrig’s Disease, or ALS, is a very serious disease that attacks the nerve cells in both the brain and the spinal cord leading to loss of muscle movement and paralysis. This isn’t even the scariest part. ALS has no clear cause, no cure, and no treatments available. It is a disease that attacks, seemingly, at random and is unstoppable once diagnosed. That is why we believe it is incredibly important to support the work done by organizations like the ALS Association, the only organization generating global research, fostering government partnerships, and actually providing assistance to individuals with ALS. Let’s send Lou Gehrig a birthday gift that we know he would appreciate, a great big Socialvest donation to the ALS Association!