Continuum Classic: The Luckiest Man

(This article was initially published on July 4, 2012.)

It was July 4th, 1939. Lou Gehrig was a dying man. Earlier that year, he’d ended his 2,130 consecutive game streak, taking himself out before a game in Detroit for the good of the team (he was hitting .143 with an RBI). A visit to the Mayo Clinic in June confirmed the worst: he had Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis, the disease that now carries his name. Although his mind would remain intact, his body would slowly betray him. Although his wife had told the doctors to try and withhold some of the more horrible details of the diagnosis from him, there is evidence to suggest that Lou knew, somehow, that he was on his way out. He announced his retirement from the game he loved.

So it was on Independence Day that the Yankees held a day in his honor. They retired his number 4- the first in baseball to be so honored. Some of his most famous teammates, including Babe Ruth, joined delegates from across the country in Yankee Stadium.

Everybody knows how the speech began, and many know how it ends, as can be seen below:

However, that was because, as amazing as it sounds, no media outlets had recorded the whole thing. That is partly why Gary Cooper‘s speech in Pride of the Yankees is occasionally played instead, although it moved the beginning of the speech to the end for artistic reasons and was more of a paraphrase of the actual words Gehrig gave on that day.

Since Gehrig’s death in 1941, he has remained an inspiration and a rallying-cry in the fight against ALS and similar diseases. What had been before Gehrig a little understood disease is now studied across the world.

Progress has been made. A few years back, a report came out that suggested that people who have a history of concussions may be more likely to develop an ALS-style disease (Gehrig, it should be noted, took plenty of beanballs during his career, and also had played football at Columbia), and there is also some evidence that genetics and mutations may also play a role. Despite this, however, there remains no cure.

Continuum Classic: The Luckiest Man (with Bonus 2014 Tribute)

(This article was initially published on July 4, 2012.)

It was July 4th, 1939. Lou Gehrig was a dying man. Earlier that year, he’d ended his 2,130 consecutive game streak, taking himself out before a game in Detroit for the good of the team (he was hitting .143 with an RBI). A visit to the Mayo Clinic in June confirmed the worst: he had Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis, the disease that now carries his name. Although his mind would remain intact, his body would slowly betray him. Although his wife had told the doctors to try and withhold some of the more horrible details of the diagnosis from him, there is evidence to suggest that Lou knew, somehow, that he was on his way out. He announced his retirement from the game he loved.

So it was on Independence Day that the Yankees held a day in his honor. They retired his number 4- the first in baseball to be so honored. Some of his most famous teammates, including Babe Ruth, joined delegates from across the country in Yankee Stadium.

Everybody knows how the speech began, and many know how it ends, as can be seen below:

However, that was because, as amazing as it sounds, no media outlets had recorded the whole thing. That is partly why Gary Cooper‘s speech in Pride of the Yankees is occasionally played instead, although it moved the beginning of the speech to the end for artistic reasons and was more of a paraphrase of the actual words Gehrig gave on that day.

Since Gehrig’s death in 1941, he has remained an inspiration and a rallying-cry in the fight against ALS and similar diseases. What had been before Gehrig a little understood disease is now studied across the world.

Progress has been made. A few years back, a report came out that suggested that people who have a history of concussions may be more likely to develop an ALS-style disease (Gehrig, it should be noted, took plenty of beanballs during his career, and also had played football at Columbia), and there is also some evidence that genetics and mutations may also play a role. Despite this, however, there remains no cure.

BONUS: The Starter First Basemen of Major League Baseball, as well as Derek Jeter, recite the “Luckiest Man” speech in tribute to Gehrig:

Classic Continuum: The Luckiest Man

(This article was initially published on July 4, 2012.)

It was July 4th, 1939. Lou Gehrig was a dying man. Earlier that year, he’d ended his 2,130 consecutive game streak, taking himself out before a game in Detroit for the good of the team (he was hitting .143 with an RBI). A visit to the Mayo Clinic in June confirmed the worst: he had Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis, the disease that now carries his name. Although his mind would remain intact, his body would slowly betray him. Although his wife had told the doctors to try and withhold some of the more horrible details of the diagnosis from him, there is evidence to suggest that Lou knew, somehow, that he was on his way out. He announced his retirement from the game he loved.

So it was on Independence Day that the Yankees held a day in his honor. They retired his number 4- the first in baseball to be so honored. Some of his most famous teammates, including Babe Ruth, joined delegates from across the country in Yankee Stadium.

Everybody knows how the speech began, and many know how it ends, as can be seen below:

However, that was because, as amazing as it sounds, no media outlets had recorded the whole thing. That is partly why Gary Cooper‘s speech in Pride of the Yankees is occasionally played instead, although it moved the beginning of the speech to the end for artistic reasons and was more of a paraphrase of the actual words Gehrig gave on that day.

Since Gehrig’s death in 1941, he has remained an inspiration and a rallying-cry in the fight against ALS and similar diseases. What had been before Gehrig a little understood disease is now studied across the world.

Progress has been made. A few years back, a report came out that suggested that people who have a history of concussions may be more likely to develop an ALS-style disease (Gehrig, it should be noted, took plenty of beanballs during his career, and also had played football at Columbia), and there is also some evidence that genetics and mutations may also play a role. Despite this, however, there remains no cure.

Picture of the day: Everett Scott (also, a look at some of the weird connections between him, Wally Pipp, and Lou Gehrig)

Cal Ripken broke Lou Gehrig‘s record…. but who had the record before Lou Gehrig?

Well, the answer is this man, Everett Scott. He played in 1,307 straight games from June 20, 1916 to May 6, 1925. It remains the third longest streak in history.

Scott, a shortstop like Ripken, played at various times the Red Sox, Yankees, Senators, Reds and White Sox. When his streak ended on May 6, 1925, he was replaced at short by a man named Pee Wee Wanniger.

A few weeks later, on June 1, Wanniger was pinch-hit for by Lou Gehrig, who had only seen marginal time as a pinch-hitter and a defensive replacement before then, as 1B Wally Pipp had, since Scott’s streak ended, now had the longest active consecutive game streak going. The day after that, June 2, Wally Pipp had a headache. Lou Gehrig started in his place, and went 3-5 with a double in a 8-5 win over Washington.

Gehrig, as I mentioned before, had seen some marginal time before. In fact, his debut had come during his age 19 year in 1923, when, on June 15, he came in as a defensive replacement for Wally Pipp. As he looked across the diamond, standing at short, he would have seen… Everett Scott.

Here’s a picture of Scott from the Library of Congress:

When were record chases first noticed?: Cal Ripken’s Consecutive Game Streak

I’ve been looking through the old SI Vault, curious as to when various record chases were first noticed by Sports Illustrated. So, in this new feature, I look at when the first reference to Cal Ripken‘s pursuit of Lou Gehrig‘s consecutive game streak began.

Ripken’s Consecutive Games Streak

For example, take Cal Ripken and his pursuit of Lou Gehrig’s record. It was first hinted at in 1989, when the fact he was third overall in consecutive games played was referenced in a Peter Gammons article. The next year, in the June 18 issue, there was a whole article about his streak, including how many already were having doubts about whether it was helping or hurting the Orioles. By 1992, Gehrig’s record was clearly in danger, which, along with the fact that Bob Beamon’s long-jump record had been broken, led to an SI article listing 10 records that were never going to be broken.

Of note is that, from that list, one of those supposedly unbreakable records (Roger Maris‘ 61 HRs) has been broken (albeit with the alleged aid of PEDs), another (the Lakers’ 33 straight wins) is currently under assault, and a third (Jack Nicklaus’ majors) could conceivably be broken.

July 4th: The Luckiest Man

It was July 4th, 1939. Lou Gehrig was a dying man. Earlier that year, he’d ended his 2,130 consecutive game streak, taking himself out before a game in Detroit for the good of the team (he was hitting .143 with an RBI). A visit to the Mayo Clinic in June confirmed the worst: he had Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis, the disease that now carries his name. Although his mind would remain intact, his body would slowly betray him. Although his wife had told the doctors to try and withhold some of the more horrible details of the diagnosis from him, there is evidence to suggest that Lou knew, somehow, that he was on his way out. He announced his retirement from the game he loved.

So it was on Independence Day that the Yankees held a day in his honor. They retired his number 4- the first in baseball to be so honored. Some of his most famous teammates, including Babe Ruth, joined delegates from across the country in Yankee Stadium.

Everybody knows how the speech began, and many know how it ends, as can be seen below:

However, that was because, as amazing as it sounds, no media outlets had recorded the whole thing. That is partly why Gary Cooper’s speech in Pride of the Yankees is occasionally played instead, although it moved the beginning of the speech to the end for artistic reasons and was more of a paraphrase of the actual words Gehrig gave on that day.

Since Gehrig’s death in 1941, he has remained an inspiration and a rallying-cry in the fight against ALS and similar diseases. What had been before Gehrig a little understood disease is now studied across the world.

Progress has been made. A few years back, a report came out that suggested that people who have a history of concussions may be more likely to develop an ALS-style disease (Gehrig, it should be noted, took plenty of beanballs during his career, and also had played football at Columbia), and there is also some evidence that genetics and mutations may also play a role. Despite this, however, there remains no cure.