Lou Gehrig, a Yankee Hall of Famer and perhaps one of the greatest players of all time, died today at the age of 80. Today is also Major League Baseball’s first-ever Lou Gehrig Day. Coaches and players will wear “Lou Gehrig Day” patches and 4-ALS red wristbands to promote awareness about Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis, the neurological disease Lou Gehrig died from and which is still a problem in the globe today.
Lou Gehrig Day will be observed by any team that has an off day today.
Impact on the Field
Lou Gehrig was one of the best players in baseball history before delivering his now-famous remark. Gehrig was a seven-time All-Star, two-time MVP, Triple Crown winner, and six-time World Series champion, with a 79-year career at Monument Park. With 2,130 games played in a row, he achieved the record for most consecutive games played in a row. This record was set over a 14-year period without him missing a game. His hardworking mentality and commitment to never missing a game earned him the moniker “Iron Horse.” The record would stand for 79 years until it was broken 56 years later by Cal Ripken Jr.
To put Gehrig’s effect into perspective, he only had four seasons with an OPS below 1.000 and two seasons with an OPS below.900. He had a 1.079 OPS at the end of his career. Only eight players with more over 1,000 plate appearances have an OPS of 1000 or higher. One of them is Lou Gehrig, who ranks third all-time after Ted Williams and Babe Ruth and ahead of Barry Bonds.
Gehrig was still a 133 wRC+ hitter in his lowest season. At his peak, he had a wRC+ of 198. He was well-known for his habit of driving in runs. Lou is second all-time with 185 RBIs in a single season and 18th all-time in WAR with 114.1. In addition, despite consistently hitting for power, he had a lifetime strikeout rate of 8.2 percent.
Keep in mind that those numbers only apply to the regular season. When the playoffs arrived, Gehrig would set new records. Gehrig hit.361/.477/.731 in 34 career postseason games, good for a 1.208 career playoff OPS and a 194 wRC+. Gehrig hit.545 in the 1928 World Series, with four home runs and nine RBIs. In addition, he did not strike out in the playoffs that year.
After a career,
Prior to his diagnosis, Gehrig was not performing as well as he had in previous seasons and had removed himself from the Yankees lineup because he believed he was jeopardising the team’s chances of winning. He was diagnosed with ALS shortly after, and his career came to an end.
Even though Lou Gehrig played in a different era than today’s game, his influence on the game, former players, and current players cannot be understated. Throughout his career, he racked up video game-like numbers. He gave a world famous statement at Yankee Stadium when his career was cut short, and even though he knew he was dying, he still considered himself “the luckiest guy on the face of the earth” at the time. During his address, he demonstrated that he did not take anything for granted. He acknowledged his wife and family, as well as his management and teammates, as well as the Yankees’ grounds staff and other lower-level staff at the time.
“I may have been dealt a lousy hand, but I have an awful lot to live for,” Lou Gehrig said at the end of his legendary speech.
This quote has inspired many who have been diagnosed with ALS to keep fighting and not give up.