Lou Gehrig, 1939.
(born June 19, 1903, New York, N.Y., U.S.—died June 2, 1941, New York) U.S. baseball player, one of the game's great hitters. Gehrig attended Columbia University before joining the New York Yankees. From 1925 to 1939 the left-handed first baseman played in a record 2,130 consecutive games. He earned the nickname “the Iron Horse” long before this streak was over; Gehrig's record was not broken until 1995 (see Cal Ripken
). In 1932 Gehrig became the first player to hit four home runs in a single game, and he batted in 150 or more runs in a season seven times. In 1939 his physical abilities had begun to deteriorate and he took himself out of the lineup; he was diagnosed with amyotrophic lateral sclerosis
, which came to be known as Lou Gehrig's disease. He left baseball with a career batting average of .340 and 493 home runs. His 1,990 runs batted in place him third in history, behind Hank Aaron and Babe Ruth. On July 4, 1939, more than 60,000 Yankee fans turned out to recognize Gehrig's achievements and heard him deliver a speech in which he claimed to be the “luckiest man on the face of the earth.” Gehrig was the first player to have his number (4) retired by his team.
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Encyclopedia Britannica, 2008. Encyclopedia Britannica Online.