Monday, May 3, 2021

HoraceClarke66: Lest we forget: May 2, 1939

 

The day Lou Gehrig took himself out of the lineup. 

We've been to the wars together;
We took our foes as they came;
And always you were the leader,
And ever you played the game.

Idol of cheering millions,
Records are yours by sheaves;
Iron of frame they hailed you
Decked you with laurel leaves.

But higher than that we hold you,
We who have known you best;
Knowing the way you came through
Every human test.

Let this be a silent token
Of lasting Friendship's gleam,
And all that we've left unspoken;
Your Pals of the Yankees Team. 

Those were the words longtime sportswriter John Kieran wrote for the trophy the Yankees gave to Lou on his “day” at Yankee Stadium, on July 4th, 1939. 

 

Kieran later recounted that he was asked to write the inscription by Bill Dickey, and that he felt it was “but a feeble interpretation of what the Yankee players felt about Lou Gehrig.” But when he turned it over to Dickey, the catcher read it and said quietly, “That’s okay. Thanks.”

 

Kieran was a neighbor of Gehrig’s up in Riverdale, and he would visit him at his home there.  After Lou’s death, he wrote that Gehrig told him:

 

“You know, some time when I get—well, sometimes I have that handed to me—and I read it—and I believe it—and I feel pretty good.”

 

Kieran concluded, “That’s the best pay this observer ever received for anything he ever wrote.”

 



 

17 comments:

JM said...

There's something special about Gehrig, and not just that he contracted a horrible disease or that he never stopped once he replaced Pipp or that he played under Ruth's very large shadow for years or that he was known as being a very nice guy.

Maybe it's all of that plus his great offense and fielding. Maybe. He had class. That's not so easy to define, but he had it in spades.

ranger_lp said...

There were articles I read to suggest that Gehrig got ALS from the concussions he received while playing football at Columbia University. And, Gehrig got beaned in 1934 also which may have contributed to his condition also.

TheWinWarblist said...

ALS is inherited in 5% to 10% of people. For the rest, the cause isn't known. Head trauma isn't a known risk factor. There is treatment now. Two drugs are available. They slow the disease progression but do not offer a cure.

Anonymous said...

Something Tony Lazzeri said: “They didn’t get along. Gehrig thought Ruth was a big-mouth and Ruth thought Gehrig was cheap. They were both right.”

HoraceClarke66 said...

Yes, the debate on the ALS is very interesting. I've read some people who don't think that it was even ALS—though he did go to the Mayo Clinic. He did receive repeated head injuries in his career; that beaning was particularly vicious, from some young usher of a pitcher who bragged that he was going to put Gehrig out of the lineup.

Latching on to one description of the disease, an idiot sportswriter—I believe it was Jimmy Powers—wrote that what Gehrig had was a form of polio, and that he had jeopardized all of his Yankees teammates.

HoraceClarke66 said...

The Ruth-Gehrig fight is still somewhat mysterious. At first they got along well, and Ruth would go over to the Gehrig household for a big, old-fashioned German meal.

Some say it came from Ruth insulting Lou's beloved mother. Jonathan Eig, in his excellent bio of Gehrig, points to an incident on one of the team's trips to Japan, in which Lou discovered his wife, Eleanor, in the Babe's cabin with the Babe and HIS wife.

It's unclear if any of them were doing anything illicit—beyond getting drunk—but Eleanor had been something of a baseball annie before they married, and Gehrig was reportedly not happy.

On his "Luckiest Man" day The Babe, overwhelmed by emotion, grabbed Lou in a big bear hug, tears streaming down his face. But even so, it seems that Gehrig never quite forgave him for whatever transpired.

HoraceClarke66 said...

He was a very odd guy, Lou Gehrig.

He was smart enough to have gone to Columbia's Engineering School, and liked to go to opera, where he was so moved he would weep. At the same time, his idea of fun was to go on the Ferris wheel at an amusement park, over and over again—or to come home after a game and go play baseball with the kids in his neighborhood. The movie is not far from the truth on this.

He may well have been a virgin when he married. He was shy, introverted, dominated by his mother for years. He was also so powerful that he used to swim the Hudson, back and forth, when he was still a kid.

He was always under the shadow of Ruth—Gehrig had even been a very good pitcher in college, but that was largely unknown about him, even as the Babe was known as the great pitcher-turned-hitter.

TheWinWarblist said...

Some diagnoses can be uncertain. The repeated head trauma could have caused CTE, but his symptoms were more in line with ALS according to the medical findings. The amount of ink devated to his illness must have been massive, and not all of it well thought out.

Anonymous said...

"Grove never threw much at Gehrig. Didn't want to wake him up, he said. Lou was a quiet, good-natured sort of guy, and you didn't want to get him mad. 'Let him sleep,' Grove always said." Doc Cramer, quoted in Baseball When the Grass Was Real by Donald Honig

Joe Formerlyof Brooklyn said...


Tony Lazzeri should shut the F up.

RtotheE said...

Since there is no way to comment on the countdown timer, I'll leave this here. W.Y.R. moon Big Papi or plunk Lil Altuve?

Kevin said...

There isn't any controversy over what Lou died from.

BTW, doesn't it seem strange that the next Mantle-Trout wasn't assigned to any minor league team? Perhaps he's way less polished than expected and the BRAIN Trust doesn't want to embarrass both the Lad and The Brain.

HoraceClarke66 said...

That is suspicious, Kevin. I worry about that poor kid. The build-up is impossible. Very, very few people have survived something similar, no matter how talented.

TheWinWarblist said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
TheWinWarblist said...

Mantle and Mays and Trout could play in the Big Leagues straight out of high school. No minor league time needed.

HoraceClarke66 said...

And a few others. Look at Mel Ott. But the expectations are often a killer. Look at Clint Hartung!


Anonymous said...

Who is the next Mantle-Trout?