Lou Gehrig: The Iron Horse
June 21, 2012
In honor of the upcoming All-Star game in Kansas City, the following is the first in a series of baseball biographies researched using resources at the Midwest Genealogy Center:
Henry Louis "Lou" Gehrig was known as the "Iron Horse" based on his strength and endurance. Born 19 June 1903 in New York City, New York, Lou was the second child and only one of four children to survive infancy. His parents, Heinrich Ludwig Gehrig (1867-1946) and Christina Facke (Flack) Gehrig (1881-1954), were both born in Germany. Heinrich emigrated to the U.S. in 1888. His wife came to America the following year. Since Heinrich suffered from poor health and had trouble finding steady work, Christina helped the family income by taking in laundry and cooking.
Gehrig’s mother was determined that he receive a good education, and in 1921, he attended Columbia University on a football scholarship looking to pursue a degree in engineering. However, when baseball scout Paul Krichell saw Gehrig play baseball for the local Columbia team in 1923, he signed him to the New York Yankees with a $1,500 bonus. Gehrig began playing for the Yankees in 1925 and remained with the team for 13 years. While with the Yankees, he played first base, outfield, and shortstop.
In 1933, Lou married Eleanor Grace Twitchell. They had no children. Census records for Lou and his family are available for the years 1910, 1920, and 1930. In the 1930 census, Lou’s occupation is listed as a professional baseball player.
Lou Gehrig stole home 15 times in his career. He batted .361 in 34 World Series games, with 10 home runs, eight doubles, and 35 RBIs. He also still holds the record for career grand slams set at age 23. He played 2,130 consecutive games during a baseball career that spanned from 1923 to 1939. Gehrig played in six All-Star games between 1933 and 1938.
Diagnosed with Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS), also known as Lou Gehrig’s disease, Gehrig retired from the Yankees in 1939. In one of the most emotional good-bye speeches held at Yankee Stadium, he referred to himself as "the luckiest man on the face of the earth." He was inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame in December 1939.
Lou Gehrig died from symptoms related to ALS on 2 June 1941, just two years after his retirement from baseball.
Brianne E. & Charlotte M.
Midwest Genealogy Center