Today in History, April 30, 1939:
“The Luckiest Man on the Face of the Earth.”
Lou Gehrig played his 2,130th consecutive game in major league baseball, and his last.
A member of the original New York Yankees “Murderer’s Row” (1927), by ’39 Gehrig’s health was obviously failing and in his last game he failed to hit a single ball.
Two days later he walked up to the coach Joe McCarthy, “I’m benching myself, Joe.”
The fans were in shock when it was announced that Gehrig would not be playing. Two weeks later he was diagnosed with ALS, a disease that slowly degraded the body, but fiendishly left the mind entirely in tact, now know as Lou Gehrig’s Disease.
1939 was an eventful year…Hitler’s Nazi party was preparing to take over Europe, war raged in the Orient, Gone with the Wind took to the silver screen.
But after the news about Lou Gehrig spread, July 4th was designated Lou Gehrig Appreciation Day.
Fans, dignitaries, teammates and the press filled Yankee Stadium beyond capacity and the country watched. After Babe Ruth and many others gave their tributes, Lou stepped to the microphone and announced that he was the Luckiest Man on the Face of the Earth, in spite of “catching a bad break”. There wasn’t a dry eye in stadium, likely few in the country.