- A dictionary of medical eponyms

Henry Louis Gehrig

Born 1903
Died 1941

Related eponyms

American professional baseball player, born June 19, 1903, New York City; died June 2, 1941, Riverdale, N.Y. Nickname: The Iron Horse.

Biography of Henry Louis Gehrig

Lou Gehrig was educated at Columbia University. He played first base for the New York Yankees of the American League from 1924 to 1939, when the disease forced him to abandon his career. Called the Iron Horse, he established a record for the number of consecutive games played by a professional baseball player, taking part in 2130 games in succession. This record, for decades believed to be unbeatable, was eventually beaten by Cal Ripken, with both President Bill Clinton and Vice President Al Gore present, in 1995. Gehrig bid farewell to his fans on July 4, 1939, on Yankee Stadium:

    "Fans, for the past two weeks you have been reading about the bad break I got. Yet today I consider myself the luckiest man on the face of the earth. I have been in ballparks for 17 years and have never received anything but kindness and encouragement from you fans. Look at these grand men. Which of you wouldn't consider it the highlight of his career just to associate with them for even one day? Sure I'm lucky. Who wouldn't consider it an honor to have known Jacob Ruppert? Also, the builder of baseball's greatest empire, Ed Barrow? To have spent six years with that wonderful little fellow, Miller Huggins? Then to have spent the next nine years with the best manager in baseball today, Joe McCarthy? Sure I'm lucky. When the New York Giants, a team you would give your right arm to beat, and vice versa, sends you a gift - that's something. When everybody down to the groundskeepers and those boys in white coats remember you with trophies - that's something. When you have a wonderful mother-in-law who takes sides with you in squabbles with her own daughter - that’s something. When you have a father and a mother who work all their lives so you can have an education and build your body - it’s a blessing. When you have a wife who has been a tower of strength and shown more courage than you dreamed existed - that’s the finest I know. So I close in saying that I may have had a tough break, but I have an awful lot to live for."
That year he was elected to the Baseball Hall of Fame. Two years later he was dead from amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, in the U.S.A now commonly known as Lou Gehrig's disease. It has been entered here as Charcot's disease, named for the French neurologist Jean-Martin Charcot, who described it in 1869.

On June 10, 1989, a stamp with his portrait was issued. The story of his life was told in the 1942 movie The Pride of the Yankees, starring Gary Cooper.

We thank Robert Hillmann and Scott Simpson for correcting errors in our original entry.

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