Iron Memory | Teen Ink

Iron Memory MAG

By Anonymous

   Most sports fans tend to idealize a specific player. An avid baseball fan, I root for many current baseball stars. This summer, inspired by the movie Pride of the Yankees, I began cheering on a new sports hero. This one, however, is different: he died48 years ago. As a matter of fact, he played his last game 34 years before I was born. Even in 1989, Lou Gehrig still has his charm.

Gehrig is perhaps best known for his death from a then unknown disease, amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, a deadly disease of the nerves, later coined "Lou Gehrig's disease"; yet, his life also deserves recognition, for his baseball feats are indeed spectacular. He earned his nickname "Iron Man" for his amazing 2,130 consecutive games played. In addition to his endurance, his statistics are also incredible; for example, in 1927, batting number four after Babe Ruth in the Yankee lineup, Gehrig batted .373 (high even for Wade Boggs!) with 47 home runs and 175 runs batted in. Today 100 RBI are considered outstanding, so Gehrig's numbers amazed me.

The movie's portrayal of the personal side of the "Iron Man," makes his death seem even more tragic. Lou Gehrig, born to poor German immigrants, grew up in the slums of New York. His mother's only wish was that he go to college and become a respectable and wealthy engineer. Gehrig did make it to college, but left in the middle to play with the Yankee's minor league club in Hartford. He was eventually called up by the Yankees to begin his 15 year career. A quiet man, at age 30 he married the sociable and cultured, Eleanor Twichel from Chicago. The movie and book written by Mrs. Gehrig, My Luke and I, describe their great love, and the shock his illness created.

Perhaps I admire Lou Gehrig so much because he is so unlike any of today's players. No scandals surrounded him. He was never greedy about money: his highest salary was $39,000, little over half the minimum salary in baseball today. He was always willing to play when sick and was a real team player. At the end of his career he benched himself and let someone else take his place when he realized he could not help his team. Gehrig's retirement due to his illness and his eventual death in 1941 saddened the baseball world. Lou Gehrig's ironclad record remains unbroken, and he is still remembered and mourned today. n

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