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1939 Lou Gehrig enters Baseball’s Hall of Fame

December 7, 2022

Words cannot express how important major league baseball was to American life during the Great Depression. Thus, when Lou Gehrig was inducted into the National Baseball Hall of Fame on December 7, 1939, America celebrated the life of a fallen hero.

Gehrig had only played his last game as a New York Yankee months earlier, on June 12 at an exhibition game in Kansas City. The stadium overflowed its 17,500 capacity with standing-room-only space to watch Gehrig take his place one last time at first base. Gehrig died two years later of amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) – Lou Gehrig's Disease at the age of 37.  


Born on June 19, 1903, Gehrig is the only one of his parents' five kids to survive into adulthood. The Gehrigs were German immigrants who landed in New York City at the end of the 19th century. As the young Gehrig began playing for his local Manhattan high school baseball team, a Major League scout from the Yankees discovered his talents for hitting home runs. Gehrig was 19 when he played his first major league baseball game as a Yankee. He played 17 seasons with the Yankees at first base between 1923 and 1939.

Gehrig’s Legacy

Gehrig earned the nickname "Iron Horse" because of his hitting success and consistently stellar performance on the field. His career batting average was .340, with 493 home runs. He was on six championship teams. Gehrig was a sports celebrity who endured as an American hero because he was a consistent bright spot in the bleak lives of American sports fans during the depression. So, when Gehrig took the field for his last game, it was for the fans. It was one last chance to see their hero play ball again and reminisce about simpler times when bread wasn't so expensive.



  1. Allan Rosenblatt

    that tradition continues, although not with every player. The one that comes to mind immediately is Derek Jeter and also his manager, Joe Torre. Great Yankees and ‘class’ humans

  2. Becky Woolery

    Mr. Gehrig was a remarkable, yet humble man. I never knew he was the only surviving child his parents had. My heart breaks for them as they lost him as well. We could all only wish Lou and his wife had children to continue his legacy. Lou Gehrig is a fine example for all ball players to follow. Thank you, Mr. Gehrig, for sharing your life with us.


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