Legendary baseball player Lou Gehrig (1903-1941), the "Pride of the Yankees" was born on this day in New York. "The Iron Horse" played in 2130 consecutive games from 1925 to 1939.
One of the finest players of his era, the resilient first baseman had a lifetime batting average of .340 with 493 home runs and 23 grand slams.
"The ballplayer who loses his head, who can't keep his cool, is worse than no ballplayer at all," he once said.
The beloved slugger retired from baseball in 1939 when diagnosed with amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, a neuromuscular disease that leads to total paralysis. ALS came to be known as Lou Gehrig's Disease. The ALS awareness ribbon (above image) was inspired by Gehrig's Yankee uniform.
ALS remains incurable and its cause is unknown. Worldwide, one out of 100,000 are diagnosed with it. About 30,000 Americans have the disease, with 5,000 new cases diagnosed each year. According to Neurology World, "ALS knows no racial, socioeconomic, or ethnic boundaries."
June 21 is Global ALS Awareness Day. The ALS Association offers support, advocacy, and information, with the continued hope of finding a a cure. "As long as we can feel hope, there is hope," writer Harriet Goldhor Lerner advised.
And hope is what Lou Gehrig radiated. The first player to have his number retired (#4), upon his retirement, Gehrig told his Yankee fans in perhaps the most memorable speech in baseball history, "I consider myself the luckiest man on the face of the earth. I may have been given a bad break, but with all this I have a lot to live for."
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