|Additional Comments by Don Draper
Of all the players in baseball history, none
possessed as much talent and humility as
Lou Gehrig. His accomplishments on the
field made him an authentic American
hero, and his tragic early death made him a
Henry Louis "Lou" Gehrig (June 19, 1903
– June 2, 1941), nicknamed "The Iron
Horse" for his durability, was an American
Major League Baseball first baseman. He
played his entire 17-year baseball career
for the New York Yankees (1923–1939).
Gehrig set several major league records.
He holds the record for most career grand
slams (23).Gehrig is chiefly remembered
for his prowess as a hitter, his consecutive
games-played record and its subsequent
longevity, and the pathos of his farewell
from baseball at age 36, when he was
stricken with amyotrophic lateral sclerosis.
Gehrig was elected to the Baseball Hall of
Fame in 1939. In 1969 he was voted the
greatest first baseman of all time by the
Baseball Writers' Association, and was the
leading vote-getter on the Major League
Baseball All-Century Team, chosen by
fans in 1999.
Gehrig's later glory came from humble
beginnings. He was born on June 19, 1903
in New York City. The son of German
immigrants, Gehrig was the only one of
four children to survive. His mother,
Christina, worked tirelessly, cooking,
cleaning houses and taking in laundry to
make ends meet. His father, Heinrich,
often had trouble finding work and had
A native of New York City, he played for
the New York Yankees until his career
was cut short by amyotrophic lateral
sclerosis (ALS), now commonly known in
the United States and Canada as Lou
Gehrig's disease. Over a 15-season span
from 1925 through 1939, he played in
2,130 consecutive games, the streak
ending only when Gehrig became disabled
by the fatal neuromuscular disease that
claimed his life two years later. His streak,
long considered one of baseball's few
unbreakable records, stood for 56 years,
until finally broken by Cal Ripken, Jr., of
the Baltimore Orioles on September 6,
Gehrig accumulated 1,995 runs batted in
(RBI) in 17 seasons, with a career batting
average of .340, on-base percentage of .
447, and slugging percentage of .632.
Three of the top six RBI seasons in
baseball history belong to Gehrig. He was
selected to each of the first seven All-Star
games (though he did not play in the 1939
game, as he retired one week before it was
held), and he won the American League's
Most Valuable Player award in 1927 and
1936. He was also a Triple Crown winner
in 1934, leading the American League in
batting average, home runs, and RBIs.
Gehrig's consecutive game streak of 2,130
games (a record that stood until Cal
Ripken, Jr. broke it in 1995) did not come
On June 1, 1925, Gehrig entered the game
as a pinch hitter, substituting for shortstop
Paul "Pee Wee" Wanninger. The next day,
June 2, Yankee manager Miller Huggins
started Gehrig in place of regular first
baseman Wally Pipp. Pipp was in a slump,
as were the Yankees as a team, so
Huggins made several lineup changes to
boost their performance. Fourteen years
later, Gehrig had played 2,130 consecutive
games. He played well every day despite a
broken thumb, a broken toe and back
spasms. Later in his career Gehrig's hands
were X-rayed, and doctors were able to
spot 17 different fractures that had
"healed" while Gehrig continued to play.
His endurance and strength earned him the
nickname "Iron Horse."
In a few instances, Gehrig managed to
keep the streak intact through pinch hitting
appearances and fortuitous timing; in
others, the streak continued despite
injuries. For example:
On April 23, 1933, an errant pitch by
Washington Senators hurler struck Gehrig
in the head. Although almost knocked
unconscious, Gehrig recovered and
remained in the game.
On June 14, 1933, Gehrig was ejected
from a game, along with manager Joe
McCarthy, but he had already been at bat,
so he got credit for playing the game.
On July 13, 1934, Gehrig suffered a
"lumbago attack" and had to be assisted
off the field. In the next day's away game,
he was listed in the lineup as "shortstop",
batting lead-off. In his first and only plate
appearance, he singled and was promptly
replaced by a pinch runner to rest his
throbbing back, never taking the field.
A&E's Biography speculated that this
illness, which he also described as "a cold
in his back", might have been the first
symptom of his debilitating disease.
In addition, X-rays taken late in his life
disclosed that Gehrig had sustained several
fractures during his playing career,
although he remained in the lineup despite
those previously undisclosed injuries. In
one case, the streak was helped when
Yankees general manager Ed Barrow
postponed a game as a rainout on a day
when Gehrig was sick with the flu—even
though it was not raining. Gehrig's record
of 2,130 consecutive games played stood
until September 6, 1995, when Baltimore
Orioles shortstop Cal Ripken, Jr. broke it.
Although his performance in the second
half of the 1938 season was slightly better
than in the first half, Gehrig reported
physical changes at the midway point. At
the end of that season, he said, "I tired
mid-season. I don't know why, but I just
couldn't get going again."
When the Yankees began their 1939 spring
training in St. Petersburg, Florida, it was
clear that Gehrig no longer possessed his
once-formidable power. Throughout his
career, Gehrig was considered an excellent
baserunner, but as the 1939 season got
under way, his coordination and speed had
By the end of April, his statistics were the
worst of his career, with one RBI and a .
143 batting average. Fans and the press
openly speculated on Gehrig's abrupt
decline. James Kahn, a reporter who
wrote often about Gehrig, said in one
"I think there is something wrong with
him. Physically wrong, I mean. I don't
know what it is, but I am satisfied that it
goes far beyond his ball-playing. I have
seen ballplayers 'go' overnight, as Gehrig
seems to have done. But they were simply
washed up as ballplayers. It's something
deeper than that in this case, though. I
have watched him very closely and this is
what I have seen: I have seen him time a
ball perfectly, swing on it as hard as he
can, meet it squarely — and drive a soft,
looping fly over the infield. In other
words, for some reason that I do not
know, his old power isn't there... He is
meeting the ball, time after time, and it
isn't going anywhere."
As Lou Gehrig's debilitation became
steadily worse (he stumbled over curbs,
fumbled with the baseball, and even
slipped and fell while running bases), his
wife Eleanor called the famed Mayo Clinic
in Rochester, Minnesota. Her call was
transferred to Charles William Mayo, who
had been following Gehrig's career and his mysterious loss of strength. Mayo told
Eleanor to bring Gehrig as soon as possible.
Eleanor and Gehrig flew to Rochester from Chicago, where the Yankees were playing
at the time, arriving at the Mayo Clinic on June 13, 1939. After six days of extensive
testing at Mayo Clinic, the diagnosis of amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) was
confirmed on June 19, Gehrig's 36th birthday. The prognosis was grim: rapidly
increasing paralysis, difficulty in swallowing and speaking, and a life expectancy of less
than three years, although there would be no impairment of mental functions. Eleanor
Gehrig was told that the cause of ALS was unknown but it was painless, non-
contagious and cruel — the motor function of the central nervous system is destroyed
but the mind remains fully aware to the end. At Eleanor's request, the Mayo doctors
intentionally withheld his grim prognosis from Gehrig.
On June 21, the New York Yankees announced Gehrig's retirement and proclaimed July
4, 1939, "Lou Gehrig Appreciation Day" at Yankee Stadium. Between games of the
Independence Day doubleheader against the Washington Senators, the poignant
ceremonies were held on the diamond. In its coverage the following day, The New
York Times said it was "perhaps as colorful and dramatic a pageant as ever was
enacted on a baseball field [as] 61,808 fans thundered a hail and farewell." Dignitaries
extolled the dying slugger and the members of the 1927 Yankees World Championship
|Congratulations to Our Winners!
Nicole Blank Tish Olshefski
Robert W. Steinmann, Jr. Cindy Tarsi
Angel Esparza Stephen & Donna Jolley
Rebecca Bare Adrienne Walker
JoLynn Pfeiffer Mike Dalton
Joe Ruffner Daniel E. Jolley
Diane Burkett Mary Osmar
Margaret Paxton Gary Sterne
Laurel Fletchner Emily Garber
Dennis Brann Pam Long
Collier Smith Deborah Lee Stewart
Jim Kiser Elaine C. Hebert
Debbie Johnson Deborah Campisano
Judy Kiss Jim Baker
Dave Flomerfelt Don Draper
Evan Hindman Robin Depietro
I came at this from let field. I did not recognize either man but
assumed I would recognize the baseball player's name. I did,
however, recognize Joe diMaggio so looked up his years as a Yankee
(1936-51) so the picture had to be between those years. I looked up
the Yankee roster in '36 - nope - then '37 - and of course recognized
Gehrig's name. Googled pictures of him and George M came up.
Hard to believe I didn't know what either man actually looked like....
I got on to contest answer by googling New York Yankees famous
photos. He retired on July 4, 1939. I then got on to a NY times photo
archives by googling Lou Gehrig and Joe McCarthy (NY Yankee
manager). Photo No. 11 appears to match contest photo. Photo No.
13 shows water tank in the background.
Lou Gehrig, "The Iron Horse," accepts an
award from actor, playwright, and
director George M. Cohan of "Yankee
Doodle Dandy" fame. In '37 Gehrig was
already beginning to suffer the effects of
the amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (now
often referred to as "Lou Gehrig's
disease") that in a few short years would
take his life. Gehrig, adored by teammates
and opponents alike, was the first baseball
player to have his number, the famous "4,"
retired, and he remains one of a handful of
1. Who are these well-known individuals?
2. What was the occasion and date for the photograph?
3. What was the real birthdate of the man on the right?
|If you have a picture you'd like us to feature a picture in a future quiz, please
email it to us at CFitzp@aol.com. If we use it, you will receive a free analysis of
your picture. You will also receive a free Forensic Genealogy CD or a 10%
discount towards the purchase of the Forensic Genealogy book.
|If you enjoy our quizzes, don't forget to order our books!
|Answer to Quiz #312
July 3, 2011
1. Lou Gehrig and George M. Cohan
2. August 3, 1937 at Yankee Stadium.
The occasion was Lou Gehrig's 1900 consecutive game.
3. Although he claimed he was "born on the 4th of July",
his baptismal record indicates he was born on July 3, 1878.
|Idea for this quiz came from a suggestion submitted by Quizmaster Emeritus Dr. Stan Read..
|Comments from Our Readers
|Once again, as a New Yorker, I would be in alot of trouble with my workmates if I
didn't get this one, even though I'm not a Yankee fan, and not even a baseball fan!
Within less than 2 years after this famous photo Lou Gehrig retired from baseball
forever. Just like John Candy asked in "Stripes" "Who cryed when Old Yeller died?";
What person who, when watching Gary Cooper playing the "The Iron Horse" in "Pride
Of The Yankees" doesn't shed a tear during Gehrig's farewell speech? It would just be,
well, Un-American! Robert W. Steinmann Jr.
I'm not sure why I knew this was Gehrig, but I was about 80% certain, so that's where
I started, so this was easy to pin down. As you see from my comments above I found
varying information. At least one source said that this was an MVP award, which didn't
ring true; Cohan giving Gehrig a wristwatch for beaucoup consecutive games made
more sense to me.
I'm not a baseball historian by any stretch of the imagination, but it would be fun to try
to identify the players in the background, had I the time. A quick look at the 1937
Yankees roster and one peek at a Wikipedia page tells me that the gentleman on the left
of the picture is probably Bill Dickey. Maybe I'll try for some more when I get done
with theater season. Peter Norton
By the way -- that's a very young Joe DiMaggio to the right of George M. Cohan --
he'd been with the yankees for a year and a few months. [He's] in the background to
the right of George Cohan in the picture...over his left shoulder. I have my mother who
has been a New York Yankees fan since she was a small child. If you see pictures of
him in his youth it's pretty clear that is him. www.joedimaggio.com/the-ballplayer/yankees/
Happy Fourth to you. Impressed that you found a way to merge these two on this
day. Joe Ruffner
I thought the pictures looked like 1930's so I googled 1930 new york yankee and
found a picture of Lou Gehrig. Gary Sterne
James Cagney's movie " Yankee Doodle Dandy" is one of my all time
favorite movies. Pam Long
I thought I recognized the Iron Horse, so I image-googled (is that a verb now?)
his name and your picture was near the top, and gave me Cohan. Google-imaging
both names then gives all the rest of the info.
Without his name, but with the Yankee logo evident, it would be a little harder,
I am sure, but not impossible. Collier Smith
Writer composer director George Michael Cohan became the stuff theatrical legends are
made of, so it shouldn't be surprising that he instigated a few of those legends,
including one surrounding his birth date.
Cohan's baptismal certificate -- which is his only written birth record -- verifies that he
was born in Providence, Rhode Island on July 3rd, 1878. However, Cohan's family
unfailingly insisted that George and his country shared birthdays on the 4th. Although
noted for their honesty, the Cohans certainly would have found it hard to resist the
publicity value of a performer being "born on the Fourth of July". While it may seem
silly to begrudge a dead man a charming piece of his legend, odds are that he was
actually born on the 3rd.
Yankee Doodle Dandy met the Pride of the Yankees when songwriter George M. Cohan
presented Lou Gehrig with a wristwatch on the occasion of the Iron Horse's
1,900th consecutive game on August 3, 1937. Fantastic expressions on both faces,
but the sad irony was that Gehrig would announce his fatal illness two years
later -- on the Fourth of July. Jim Kiser
legendary players whose fame extends far beyond the confines of the game.
Seven of the American League's 1937
All-Star players, from left to right Lou
Gehrig, Joe Cronin, Bill Dickey, Joe
DiMaggio, Charlie Gehringer, Jimmie
Foxx, and Hank Greenberg. All seven
would eventually be elected to the Hall of
Fame. For a high-res version of this photo,
|How Debbie and Mike Solved the Puzzle
|The Other Yankees in the Picture
(Also see Comments from Our Readers below.)
Lou Gehrig, born in New York City as
the son of German immigrants, attends
Columbia University on a football
It's his mother, Christina, who insists
her son get a good eduction. He studies
engineering at the Ivy League college.
In addition to his efforts on the
gridiron, Gehrig also pitches and plays
first base for the Columbia baseball
After getting spotted by a Yankee
scout, Gehrig signs with the Bronx
Bombers in 1923. He starts his career
in Hartford before getting the call to
the majors in September.
The 1928 Yankee infield (from l.): Leo
Durocher, Gehrig, Tony Lazzeri, Joe
Dugan, Pat Collins, Gene Robertson
and Mark Koenig.
Gehrig teams with slugging sensation
Babe Ruth to form a potent one-two
punch for the Yankees.
Eleanor Gehrig joins her husband on
the Stadium field for a quick photo
prior to an April 1937 game vs. the
Lou Gehrig makes a hefty but vain
attempt to pole one out of the park in
Yankee-Dodger exhibition game at
Ebbets Field (April 16, 1938).
On May 3, 1938 - his last full season in
the majors - the aging slugger steals
home in a 5-1 victory over the St. Louis
Browns at the Stadium.
July 4, 1939 - The most famous speech
in sports history takes place on 'Lou
Gehrig Appreciation Day' at Yankee
'Fans, for the past two weeks you have
been reading about the bad break I got.
Yet today I consider myself the luckiest
man on the face of this earth ...'
The News' back page the next day
captures the raw emotion of the day.
Lou Gehrig, the Yankees' legendary 'Iron
Horse', plays only eight games for the
Bombers in 1939 as the suddenly
weakened hero finally takes himself out
of the lineup. His streak ends at 2,130
consecutive games played on May 2, 1939.
Gehrig is later diagnosed with
amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), a
disease that is now commonly referred to
as Lou Gehrig's disease. The disease - for
which there is still no cure - finally takes
the Yankee hero on June 2, 1941. He's
buried at Kensico Cemetary in Valhalla,
|Lou Gehrig's address to the crowd at Yankee Stadium,
July 4, 1939:
Fans, for the past two weeks you have been reading about
the bad break I got. Yet today I consider myself the luckiest
man on the face of the earth. I have been in ballparks for
seventeen years and have never received anything but
kindness and encouragement from you fans.
Look at these grand men. Which of you wouldn’t consider it
the highlight of his career just to associate with them for
even one day? Sure, I’m lucky. Who wouldn’t consider it an
honor to have known Jacob Ruppert? Also, the builder of
baseball’s greatest empire, Ed Barrow? To have spent six
years with that wonderful little fellow, Miller Huggins? Then
to have spent the next nine years with that outstanding
leader, that smart student of psychology, the best manager in
baseball today, Joe McCarthy? Sure, I'm lucky.
When the New York Giants, a team you would give your
right arm to beat, and vice versa, sends you a gift — that’s
something. When everybody down to the groundskeepers and
those boys in white coats remember you with trophies — that’
s something. When you have a wonderful mother-in-law
who takes sides with you in squabbles with her own daughter
— that's something. When you have a father and a mother
who work all their lives so that you can have an education
and build your body — it's a blessing. When you have a wife
who has been a tower of strength and shown more courage
than you dreamed existed — that's the finest I know.
So I close in saying that I might have been given a bad
break, but I've got an awful lot to live for. Thank you.
team, known as "Murderer's Row",
attended the ceremonies. New York Mayor
Fiorello La Guardia called Gehrig "the
greatest prototype of good sportsmanship
and citizenship" and Postmaster General
James Farley concluded his speech by
predicting, "For generations to come, boys
who play baseball will point with pride to
The Yankees retired Gehrig's uniform
number "4", making him the first player in
Major League Baseball history to be
accorded that honor. Gehrig was given
many gifts, commemorative plaques, and
trophies. Some came from VIPs; others
came from the stadium's groundskeepers
and janitorial staff. Footage of the
ceremonies shows Gehrig being handed
various gifts, and immediately setting them
down on the ground, because he no longer
had the arm strength to hold them.
After Gehrig addressed the crowd (see his
remarks at the right), the crowd stood and
applauded for almost two minutes. Gehrig
was visibly shaken as he stepped away
from the microphone, and wiped the tears
away from his face with his handkerchief.
Although he had been estragned from
Gehrig for several years over a comment
that Gerig's mother had made about how Ruth's daughter dressed, Babe Ruth came
over and hugged him as a band played "I Love You Truly" and the crowd chanted "We
love you, Lou." The New York Times account the following day called it "one of the
most touching scenes ever witnessed on a ball field", that made even hard-boiled
reporters "swallow hard."
In December 1939, Lou Gehrig was elected unanimously to the National Baseball Hall
of Fame and Museum in a special election by the Baseball Writers Association, waiving
the waiting period normally required after a ballplayer's retirement. At age 36, he was
the second youngest player to be so honored (behind Sandy Koufax).
On June 2, 1941, at 10:10 p.m., sixteen years to the day after he replaced Wally Pipp at
first base and two years after his retirement from baseball, Lou Gehrig died at his home
in the Riverdale section of the Bronx, New York.
Upon hearing the news, Babe Ruth and his wife Claire went to the Gehrig house to
console Eleanor. Mayor LaGuardia ordered flags in New York to be flown at half-staff,
and Major League ballparks around the nation did likewise.
Following the funeral at Christ Episcopal Church of Riverdale, Gehrig's remains were
cremated and interred on June 4 at Kensico Cemetery in Valhalla, New York. Lou
Gehrig and Ed Barrow are both interred in the same section of Kensico Cemetery,
which is next door to Gate of Heaven Cemetery, where the graves of Babe Ruth and
Billy Martin are located.
Lou Gehrig's headstone in Kensico Cemetery (the year of his birth was inscribed
erroneously as 1905). Eleanor Gehrig never remarried following her husband's death,
dedicating the rest of her life to supporting ALS research. She died on March 6, 1984,
on her 80th birthday. They had no children.
The Yankees dedicated a monument to Gehrig in center field at Yankee Stadium on July
6, 1941, the shrine lauding him as, "A man, a gentleman and a great ballplayer whose
amazing record of 2,130 consecutive games should stand for all time." Gehrig's
monument joined the one placed there in 1932 to Miller Huggins, which would
eventually be followed by Babe Ruth's in 1949.
|For More Info about George M. Cohan
|Whether or not the quiz masters immediately recognized one, both or
neither of the 2 famous men would likely be a function of their age
along with experiences and interests while growing up. In my case I
knew the New York Yankee receiving an award was Lou Gehrig. His
career ended before I was born but as a child I played baseball and
was interested in reading about the all-time great players. In Grade 5 I
remember reading and enjoying the biography of Lou Gehrig and was
delighted in watching The Pride of the Yankees about 10 years after
the film was released in 1942. Searching for Google images of Lou
Gehrig did not result in locating the photo of this week’s Quiz.
Adding the word “award” resulted in success. A photo with a slightly
different view of the same situation was included on the website
www.nydailynews.com. The photo was taken at Yankee Stadium on
August 03, 1937 when Gehrig was given a watch by the 2nd central
figure - George M. Cohan, the well known, self-described “song and
dance man”. He also was a fan of baseball and was on hand to
recognize Gehrig’s achievement of American League’s Most Valuable
Player during the 1936 season. A search for “Gehrig Cohan MVP”
images resulted in finding the photo of this week’s quiz on Leland’s
auction site (the negative was for sale). Apparently Cohan always
maintained that he was born on the 4th of
July - perhaps for the publicity. Several biographical websites indicate
that his baptismal certificate shows that he was born in Providence,
Rhode Island on July 3rd, 1878.
At first I thought it would be interesting to attempt identification of
the other players in the photo. Several Yankees on that team are now
in the Baseball Hall of Fame so they too were “well-known”. The man
on the far left was one of the great catchers of all time - Bill Dickey.
The player to the right of Cohan looks a little like Joe DiMaggio in his
first season - hard to tell. Most photos of ball players are with their
caps, otherwise hairlines would be helpful in matching faces.