One June 15, 1923, Henry Louis Gehrig made his major league baseball debut with the New York Yankees (4 days before his 20th birthday).
Henry Louis Gehrig (June 19, 1903 – June 2, 1941) was an American baseball first baseman who played 17 seasons in Major League Baseball (MLB) for the New York Yankees (1923–1939). Gehrig was renowned for his prowess as a hitter and for his durability, a trait which earned him his nickname “The Iron Horse“. He finished with a career batting average of .340, an on-base percentage of .447, and a slugging percentage of .632, and he tallied 493 home runs and 1,995 runs batted in (RBIs). A seven-time All-Star and six-time World Series champion, Gehrig won the Triple Crown in 1934 and was twice named the American League’s (AL) Most Valuable Player. Gehrig was the first MLB player to have his uniform number retired, and he was elected to the Baseball Hall of Fame in 1939. He set several major league records during his career, including the most career grand slams (23) (since broken) and most consecutive games played (2,130), a record that stood for 56 years and was long considered unbreakable until surpassed by Cal Ripken, Jr. in 1995. Gehrig’s streak ended in 1939 after he was stricken with amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), a disorder now commonly referred to as Lou Gehrig’s Disease in North America, which forced him to retire at age 36 and claimed his life two years later. The pathos of his farewell from baseball was capped off by his iconic “Luckiest Man on the Face of the Earth” speech at the original Yankee Stadium.
Gehrig was voted the greatest first baseman of all time by the Baseball Writers’ Association in 1969, and was the leading vote-getter on the Major League Baseball All-Century Team chosen by fans in 1999. A monument in Gehrig’s honor, originally dedicated by the Yankees in 1941, currently resides in Monument Park at Yankee Stadium. The Lou Gehrig Memorial Award, given annually to the MLB player best exhibiting the integrity and character of Gehrig, was named in the first baseman’s honor.