On June 1, 1925, New York Yankee’s slugger, Lou Gehrig, played his first of 2,130 consecutive games.
Gehrig’s streak ended May 2, 1939. The decision to sit out of the game was not made by management or coaches but by the Iron Horse himself for poor play. Early stages of amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), now known as “Lou Gehrig’s Disease” would later be blamed for his slump.
The only player to have a longer streak was Cal Ripken Jr. who went without missing a game from June 30, 1982 to September 19, 1988.
Gehrig, born to German immigrants, was the only one of his siblings to survive childhood. His parents pushed him to succeed academically, landing him at Colombia University where he studied engineering on a football scholarship.
The ambitious athlete used the name Henry Lewis to participate in New York Giants Manager John McGraw’s summer camp. Gehrig lost his college football eligibility when he was found out, leading the future star to play baseball.
Despite joining the Yankees in 1923, Gehrig didn’t play until 1925 when first baseman Wally Pipp who benched himself with a headache.
Pipp never played another game while Gehrig stayed in for 13 seasons.
The New York Yankees held Lou Gehrig day on July 4, 1939, honoring their star. Longtime manager Joe McCarthy and teammate Babe Ruth encouraged the shaking former all-star player to speak. He said, ““Today, I consider myself the luckiest man on the face of the earth.”
Two years later Gehrig passed away with his wife Eleanor by his side.