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10 Crazy Comparisons About New York Yankee Great Lou Gehrig
Lou Gehrig was a great ballplayer and great man.
There are many great comparisons to Lou Gehrig, a lot that have to do with baseball and some that have to do with his life. He was a stellar Major League Baseball star who was always ready to play. He rarely missed a game.
He was a rare person who was born in New York, went to high school in NY, and college at Columbia University in New York, He was signed by the New York Yankees and retired from the same team playing for them for 17 years. He died tragically at the age of 37 years old from the disease named after him. (He did have a brief albeit ill advised stint in Hartford, CT).
There is no denying his legacy. It is hard to believe it has been 75 years since his farewell speech at Yankee Stadium. But his life left a legacy for all humanity defining the human spirit and his life draws many comparisons to athletes and people spanning many generations. It is those comparisons that we want to share today.
1. The many names of Lou Gehrig
Like many ballplayers and athletes alike Lou had a nickname. Well to be quite honest he had several. His common name was taken from his given name Henry Louis "Lou" or "Buster" Gehrig
Some of them included:
- AKA of Louis Heinrich Gehrig
- The Iron Horse
- Biscuit Pants
- Known for being "The Luckiest Man on the Face of the Earth"
Of these he is most know for his name of The Iron Horse. But did you know there were other athletes with multiple nicknames? Can you name any of them?
- Hank Aaron- Hammer, Hammerin' Hank, Bad Henry
- Lou Boudreau - Old Shufflefoot, Handsome Lou, The Good Kid
- Ken Griffey - Junior, The Kid, The Natural
- Tony Gwynn - Mr. Padre, Captain Video
- Derek Jeter - Mr. November, The Captain, Captain Clutch
- Mickey Mantle - The Mick, The Commerce Comet, Muscles
- Babe Ruth - Babe, The Bambino, The Sultan Of Swat
- Deion Sanders - Neon Deion, Prime Time
- Ted Williams- The Kid, Teddy Ballgame, Splendid Splinter, Thumper
- Don Zimmer - Popeye, Zip, The Gerbil
Well Biscuit Pants was a funny nick name and he was called that probably as a reference to his baggy pants over his big thighs, and his broad backside. With that here are some other funny or unusual nick names in Baseball.
- Juan Berenguer - Señor Smoke, El Gasolino
- Eric Byrnes - Crash Test Dummy, Pigpen
- Jack Chapman - Death To Flying Things
- Dexter Fowler - Daddy Long Legs
- Mike Hargrove - The Human Rain Delay
- Ed Heusser - The Wild Elk Of The Wasatch
- Sandy Koufax - The Left Arm of God
- Hunter Pence - Captain Underpants
- Otto Velez - Otto the Swatto
- Billy Williams - Sweet Swingin' Billy from Whistler
2. He played for the New York Yankees his whole career.
He was singed by the New York Yankees at the age of 21 years old in 1923 for a bargain salary around $2400.00. If he was playing today his salary would be exceeding $40 to $50 million a year based in his performance.
He stated with the same team for 17 years although his last season was cut very short. His career earnings of just over $400,000.00 is less than the minimum Major League Salary for today's players. While it was not unheard of players playing their entire careers with one team, nowadays it is pretty rare.
Here are some other athletes who spent their entire career with one team spanning at least 10 years in their respective sport.
- Joe DiMaggio and Micky Mantle also with the New York Yankees, and Derek Jeter will retire a Yankee in 2014 after a long career of 18 seasons.
- A host of Pittsburgh Steelers did it including Terry Bradshaw, Mean Joe Greene, Hines Ward, and Lynn Swann.
- Both Roger Staubach and Troy Aikman did it with the Dallas Cowboys.
- In hockey both Steve Yzerman and Nicklas Lidstrom played their careers with the Detroit Red Wings.
- Playing for the Montreal Canadiens in hockey were Maurice Richard, Jean Beliveau, and Bob Gainey.
- John Stockton played 19 seasons with the Utah Jazz.
- Reggie Miller was with the Indiana Pacers for 18 years.
- Who can forget those great Boston Celtic teams with Bill Russell, Satch Sanders, John Havlicek, and the newer guys Larry Bird and Kevin McHale.
In today's sports landscape playing for one team is pretty rare. As contracts grow larger and free agency makes it easy for guys to switch teams you will see these loyal athletes less and less.
White House Baseball Dream Team
3. He was an All Star and Hall of Famer and a...
Member of a fearsome group known as "Murders Row" a lineup of the first six hitters in the 1927 New York Yankees team. The batting order was so dominant they ended up winning the pennant by 19 games and outscoring their opponents by 376 runs. In the end the won the World Series in a four game sweep over the Pittsburgh Pirates and repeated in a sweep of the World Series in 1928 sweeping the Cardinals and getting their revenge for a 1926 World Series loss.
They were not the only team in sports to have a fearsome nickname or a team description that other teams hated to hear when they played. Some of these are:
- Pittsburgh Steelers Steel Curtain
- Fearsome Foursome of the Los Angeles Rams
- Purple People Eaters from the Minnesota Vikings
- The Detroit Pistons Bad Boys
- Cincinnati Reds Big Red Machine
- Showtime of the LA Lakers
- The Fab Five from the Michigan Wolverines
- Dirty Birds of the Atlanta Falcons
- The Dream Team USA Olympic Basketball team
- And one from hockey is The French Connection of the Buffalo Sabres
I am certain there are a lot of other great sport team nicknames and if you have any more please leave them in the comments below.
Celebrating 75 Years Since Lou Gehrig's Farewell Speech
Besides Lou Gehrig who gave the best end of their career or HOF speech?
4. One of the greatest sports speeches ever.
Its been 75 years since that great speech was given. It was short yet so moving. But since then there has been other great speeches from the rank of sports athletes, coaches, and others whose words have impacted us and made us revere and honor the words they left behind.
Besides the great speech of Lou Gehrig some of these other great speeches are:
- Jim Valvano at the 1993 ESPY Awards
- Jack Buck's 9-11 Poem
- Babe Ruth on "Babe Ruth Day" on April 27, 1947
- Knute Rockne - Win one for the Gipper
- Herb Brooks - Miracle on Ice pregame speech
- Cal Ripken, Jr. Farewell to Baseball Address
- Walter Payton Hall of Fame speech
- Vince Lombardi Super Bowl II speech
- Muhammad Ali Rumble in the Jungle speech
- Michael Irving Hall of Fame speech
And there are a lot more, some real, and some glamorized from the movies. But you get the point, that there are a ton of great sports greats who said things their way and left an indelible mark in the sports world.
5. He held a long time record many thought would not be broken.
Lou Gehrig was also called the Iron Horse because he was tough! He played in 2130 consecutive games a feat and record that was not broken until 1995. His last game was April 30th 1939 and that was also the day the streak was over. Gehrig could have played more buy he benched himself knowing within himself his health was failing.
So are there other Iron Legends in Sports?
- Cal Ripken Jr who broke Gehrig's record in 1995 went on to play in 2632 games giving him the nickname Iron Man.
- A.C. Green of the NBA played in 1192 straight NBA games.
- Jeff Feagles holds the most consecutive games played in the NFL but he was a punter.
- Brett Favre had the most consecutive starts at quarterback in the NFL which is a more impressive record.
- Ricky Rudd has more consecutive Sprint Cup starts in Nascar than any one else buy Jeff Gordon is hot on his heels.
- Doug Jarvis played in 964 hockey games in the NHL.
- Noland Ryan and Cap Anson played 27 seasons in the Big Leagues although Nolan did it when they played more games.
- Kevin Willis and Robert Parish played over 21 seasons in the NBA that is a lot of running up and down the court.
What's impressive about Lou Gehrig's record is that it stood for over 50 years, he did not play in as many games per season as players do today, and if had not gotten his illness who knows how many more games he would have played.
6. The end of a career and a legends life before his time.
In his 1938 season Lou Gehrig had above average statistics but at the end of the season he admitted he was tired about midway through. By the start of the 1939 season others were noticing that something was wrong with Gehrig.
On May 2nd against the Tigers Lou stayed out his first game in over 2130 games and sadly that would be the end of his stellar career.
After getting steadily worse his wife got Lou under the care of Charles Mayo at the Mayo Clinic where he started testing on Gehrig June 13, 1939. On his birthday June 19, 1939 he was diagnosed with ALS more commonly known today as Lou Gehrigs disease. On June 21 the New York Yankees announced the retirement of Lou and he became the first Yankee and MLB player to have his jersey number retired, number 4. Later he gave his famous speech on Lou Gehrig appreciation day on July 4th 1939. And sadly he died on June 2, 1941 just a few week shy of his birthday at his home forever leaving an unmovable mark on Baseball and World history.
Lou was not alone with his illness other athletes have had similar bouts with illness.
- Babe Ruth died of cancer in 1948 hoping to have a long career as a manger in baseball it was cut short due to the disease.
- Magic Johnson retired from the NBA after being diagnosed with HIV.
- Louis Brian Piccolo died from cancer and his NFL career was cut very short.
- Len Bias was considered by many as the greatest basketball star never to play in the NBA as he died shortly after his draft day of cardiac arrhythmia induced by a cocaine overdose.
- Hanks Gathers was a star basketball player on the collegiate level destined for NBA greatness but died during a game due to a heart condition.
- Pat Tillman didn't die of illness but he left football to serve his country and died in that service and deserves special recognition.
- Ernie Davis never got to play in the NFL after being drafted and succumbed to Leukemia after a stellar college career.
- Reggie Lewis of the Boston Celtics died of heart failure during a practice.
- Bruce Lee who some consider was an actor just plain forget he was a martial arts guru and died at 32 from unknown causes.
- Korey Stringer of the Minnesota Vikings died due to complications of heat stroke.
7. Lou Gehrig was also on the Silver Screen
So Lou Gehrig was talked into doing some photo shoots for the upcoming Tarzan movie. But luckily it did not go so well and he did not get the part. But he did star in the movie Rawhide playing himself. Not a major role but he did do some acting.
Were there other great athletes who starred in the silver screen?
- Johnny Weissmuller was a five time gold medalist swimmer who played Tarzan and after he left Lou Gehrig did the photo op for the part.
- Bob Uecker, played in the Major League comedy films.
- Alex Karras, Blazing Saddles, and others in the eighties.
- Ray Nitschke a football player, The Longest Yard
- Wilt Chamberlain played a mighty man in Conan the Destroyer
- Merlin Olsen who played mostly on the TV series Little House on the Prairie and Father Murphy
- Chuck Connors was a 2 sport athlete best known for his Rifleman TV series
- Fred Dryer was on the TV series Hunter
- Jim Brown in the Dirty Dozen
- Fred Williamson has been in the movie business over 30 years after a NFL stint
8. Lou Gehrig won Six Championships
Lou Gehrig's list of accomplishments are numerous. He won six World Series, was an all star seven times, was a Triple Crown winner in 1934, and a 2 time MVP.
He was a power hitter and a superb first baseman. In one game he hit four home runs, and was robbed of a fifth. He was the first in the 20th century to do this.
What other great athletes have more championship rings then the fingers on one hand?
- Henri Richard of the NHL has 11 rings.
- Yogi Berra has 10 World Series rings as a player and 3 as a coach.
- Bill Russel has 11 rings in 13 seasons as a players.
- Michael Jordan has 6 rings in two three-peats.
- Charles Haley of the NFL has 5 rings.
- Robert Horry of the NBA has 7 rings with three teams.
- Joe Dimaggio 9 time World Series champion.
- Michael Phelps they are not rings but 22 medals is nothing to laugh at.
- Jack Nicklaus 18 major championships.
- Roger Federer 17 grand slam titles.
9. Lou was also a 2 Sport Athlete, did you know that?
Lou Gehrig actually went to Columbia on a football scholarship. He was talked into playing on a semi-pro baseball team in Hartford, CT which ruined his collegiate eligibility and earned him a ban from college his freshman year.
In 1922 he returned to Columbia and played fullback for the Columbia Lions football team and finally the following year got to play baseball where he pitched a little and played first base for the same school. So he was maybe not the "greatest" two sport athlete he does qualify in a small way.
So what other great athletes were 2 sport stars? This one is pretty easy.
- Jim Thorpe - track and football
- Bo Jackson - baseball and football
- Charlie Ward - basketball and football
- Deion Sanders - football and baseball
- Jimmy Graham - basketball and football
- Michael Jordan - basketball and baseball
- The Rock - pro wrestling and football and acting as a sports figure
- Danny Ainge - basketball and baseball
- Tom Glavine - baseball and hockey
- Kenny Lofton - baseball and basketball
Lou Gehrig was best known for being a NY Yankee
Who is the best NY Yankee of all time?
10. Lou Gehrig spent two years at Columbia University.
Those two years were spent as a baseball and football player before going to the Yankees. He was a member of the Phi Delta Theta fraternity and did not graduate. But he is one of the most notable sports figures to come from that University.
So what other alumni came from Columbia U?
- Robert Kraft—(B.A. 1963) The Owner of New England Patriots
- S. Robson Walton—(J.D. 1969) Chairman of the Board, Wal-Mart and eldest son of Sam Walton
- Robin Cook— (M.D.) physician and novelist; novels combine medical writing with thriller genre; his books have sold nearly 100 million copies
- Oscar Hammerstein II—(A.B. 1916; studied at Law School as well, 1916–17), Lyricist and librettist; winner of 2 Academy Awards, 8 Tony Awards, 2 Pulitzer Prizes, and 2 Grammy Awards; including musicals such as the Pulitzer Prize-winning Oklahoma!, The King and I and The Sound of Music; collaborator with Richard Rodgers
- Ed Harris—(attended first two years) Golden Globe-winning and Academy Award-nominated actor, The Truman Show, A Beautiful Mind
- Art Garfunkel—(B.A. 1965, art history; M.A. 1965, mathematics; AND), Grammy-award winning singer, poet, Golden Globe nominated actor, songwriter of Simon and Garfunkel
- Amelia Earhart—(attended one semester, 1920)
- Sandy Koufax—Baseball Hall of Fame pitcher
- Jack Greenberg (B.A. 1945, LL.B. 1948), second President and Director-Counsel of the NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund; argued 40 civil rights cases before the U.S. Supreme Court, including Brown v. Board of Education (1954)
- Jennifer Lee (filmmaker)—(M.F.A. ?), Academy Award-winning co-screenwriter and co-director of Frozen (2013 film)
And the list goes on and on. These are only some of the notables that I picked out and your list could be completely different.