Tag: Lou Gehrig

Lou Gehrig Might Not Have Succumbed to ALS or "Lou Gehrig’s Disease" After All

Lou Gehrig passed away 71 years ago today, June 2, 1941. A study released on Aug. 17, 2010 created speculation about the cause of Gehrig’s death.

12 athletes that suffered from chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE) comprised the study’s sample. It was discovered that three of the 12 had symptoms similar to those of Gehrig, who died from amyotophic lateral sclerosis (ALS).

ALS is rare. About 6,000 individuals in the U.S. are diagnosed with it each year.

Individuals that suffer from trauma to the head and brain develop symptoms similar to those of ALS.

The researchers identified spinal cord markings on the three individuals with symptoms that resembled Gehrig’s. They suggested that they died by concussion or other head trauma that attacks the central nervous system.

Two former football players diagnosed with ALS, Wally Hillenburg and Eric Scoggins, had the condition, according to the study.

Gehrig was hit in the head numerous times during his career. Because he was Lou Gehrig, he continued to play despite fractures and being knocked unconscious.

Dr. Anne McKee, director of the neuropathology lab for the New England Veterans Administration Medical Centers, who was the lead neuropathologist of the study, hypothesized the concussions Gehrig endured, not ALS, might have killed him.

“Here he is, the face of his disease, and he may have had a different disease as a result of his athletic experience,” McKee told the New York Times.

The danger of blows to the head cannot be overemphasized. It wasn’t until the 1950s that players started to wear batting helmets on a regular basis. I remember when all that players wore was a protective plastic lining under their hat.

The cause of Gehrig’s death will always be considered ALS. It doesn’t matter whether it was ALS or the concussions he suffered and basically ignored. Both problems are being addressed.

Major sports today are taking steps to protect players that suffer head trauma. Better late than never.

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The Top 5 Hitting Seasons of All Time

Since the beginning of baseball, there have been players who have had mind boggling, amazing, record-breaking seasons. Babe Ruth, Barry Bonds, Alex Rodriguez, and Ted Williams are some of the best to ever play the game of baseball, and they have all had historic seasons. So have many others.

These are the top 5 hitting seasons of all time.

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New York Yankees: The 1927 Club and the Top 15 Teams in Franchise History

With 27 World Championships, the New York Yankees have dominated the MLB for nearly 100 years.

By employing some of the best hitters in the history of baseball, New York’s continuing professionalism mixed with the shear ability to consistently win has become the epitome of their championship swagger.

They’ve made their mark through historic achievements such as home run records, perfect games and no-hitters, HOF legends, and by becoming one of the most prominent sports teams in the history of U.S. sports.

The Yankees have posted 20 seasons with at least 100 wins, carrying that regular season success deep into the playoffs and capturing the prized possession of baseball almost three times more than the second most successful team (Cardinals with 10).

It’s hard to breakdown the Yankees’ championship teams of the past.  Decade by decade, players and teams are subject to different times in baseball’s evolution, making it difficult to compare a team from 1923 to a 2009 world series winner.

Every generation of fans has their own reasons in defending the championship seasons of their eras.  Mickey Mantle, Babe Ruth, Derek Jeter, and Mariano Rivera, make up the legends of New York championship teams and possess their own achievements that can be called “the best”.

With that said, here are the top 15 teams in New York Yankees franchise history.

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Does Derek Jeter Have Lou Gehrig’s Values?

The New York Yankees front office was faced with some problems following the team’s outstanding 1937 season in which they won the pennant by 13 games and defeated the New York Giants in the World Series.

Joe DiMaggio received $15,000 in 1937 and intimated that $25,000 would not be sufficient in 1938. Of course, the reality of the situation was that Joe had only two choices—play for the Yankees or don’t play.  Joe didn’t have the option of becoming a free agent.

There was much more.

Lou Gehrig, Bill Dickey, Lefty Gomez and Red Ruffing became holdouts.  Ruffing, the right-handed ace of the pitching staff, didn’t sign until May.  Interestingly, he had his best season in 1937, going 20-7 with a 2.98 ERA.

Gehrig signed for $36,000 once he realized that the Yankees were willing to let him miss the beginning of the season and risk ending his endurance streak of consecutive games played. The streak was more important to Gehrig than money, which was not true for the Yankees.

How do the Steinbrenner brothers, Randy Levine, and Brian Cashman feel about losing Derek Jeter?  The names have changed (Ed Barrow, George Weiss, Mike Burke, George Steinbrenner, and Mr. Steinbrenner’s sons), but with the possible exception of Mr. Steinbrenner, the philosophy remains the same.  

Derek Jeter has been compared to the greatest of the Yankees.  Ruth, Gehrig, DiMaggio, and Mantle all experienced the power of ownership.  

It must be stated that the Yankees’ offer of $15 million a year for three years to Jeter is fair, which makes the Jeter case different from those of the others.  The Yankees are willing to let Jeter walk, just as the Yankees were willing to let Gehrig’s consecutive games played streak end.

Is Jeter willing to walk?

In the middle of January, 1937, during the week that the Yankees were going to mail contracts to players, DiMaggio visited New York to see his friend, boxer Jim Braddock, fight Tommy Farr.  Joe told reporters that he hoped to talk to the Yankees and settle the salary matter quickly.

“While I naturally have an idea what I’m worth, I don’t think it’s up to me to say anything about that now. I’d rather wait until the club made its offer.”

A day later, Yankees general manager Ed Barrow announced that he would not meet with players before contracts had been mailed, but the day after they had been mailed, Barrow invited DiMaggio to a conference that owner Colonel Ruppert would attend.

It was believed that DiMaggio was offered $15,000, which was the salary he had earned the previous season and would be a starting point for negotiations.

Baseball players didn’t have agents in DiMaggio’s era, but they sometimes had help in negotiations. Joe was a good friend not only of Jim Braddock—he was a good friend of Braddock’s manager, Joe Gould.

It was rumored that Gould coached DiMaggio in setting his demands and that $30,000 would be DiMaggio’s rock bottom price. Gould, of course, vehemently denied any involvement is DiMaggio’s financial affairs.

After making him wait for 45 minutes, Ruppert appeared at the conference and offered Joe $25,000, which he immediately refused.

When spring training opened on February 28, DiMaggio was in San Francisco, awaiting developments on his salary. He was still asking for $40,000 but insiders indicated that he would settle for $30,000. Ruppert was adamant that DiMaggio accept $25,000.

On March 12, DiMaggio was quoted as saying, “I suppose it will wind up with the ballplayer signing the contract, as he usually does.” Ruppert responded by calling DiMaggio “…an ungrateful young man who is very unfair to his teammates.”

On April 7, Ruppert cut off negotiations, telling DiMaggio to either take or leave the $25,000 offer. Myril Hoag was announced as the Yankees’ center fielder.

On April 18, the St. Louis Browns offered the Yankees $150,000 for DiMaggio, which the Yankees refused. On April 21, DiMaggio signed for $25,000, less the money he lost for not reporting on time.

Ruppert said, “I hope the young man has learned his lesson.”  What an arrogant statement.

DiMaggio said that he hoped to have such a great season that “there won’t be any chance of an argument over salary next year.”


 Dawson, James P. “Many Holdouts Left Behind as Yanks Start for Florida.” New York Times. 27 February 1938, p. 72.

 Drebinger, John. “Holdout War Brewing for Yanks as DiMaggio Ponders His Worth. New York Times. 7 January 1938, p. 22.

 Drebinger, John. “DiMaggio Wants Big Increase but Withholds Demands Until Yanks Make Offer.” New York Times. 18 January 1938, p.17

 Drebinger, John. “Ruppert’s Conference With DiMaggio On Star’s Contract Ends in Stalemate.” New York Times. 22 January 1938, p.9.

 Effratt, Louis. “Ruppert Assails DiMaggio’s Stand.” New York Times. 14 March 1938, p. 20.

 “DiMaggio Awaits Yankee Contract; Conference Expected Later if Terms to be Sent This Week Fail to Please Him.” New York Times. 19 January 1938, p. 17.

    * “End of Yankee Holdout Suggested by DiMaggio.” New York Times. 12 March 1938, p. 23.
 “Ruppert Unmoved by DiMaggio Stand” New York Times. 8 April 1938, p. 23.

 Browns Bid for DiMaggio but Yankees Refuse $150,000 for Hold Out.” New York Times. 19 April 1938, p. 25.

 * “DiMaggio Agrees to $25,000 Terms; Ruppert Wins Salary Battle; Pay Star When Joe Shows He is Ready to Play.” New York Times. 21 April 1938, p.23.

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New York Yankees Squeezed Lou Gehrig After He Was Voted MVP

The New York Yankees won the 1936 World Series in five games over their cross-town rivals, the New York Giants.

Joe DiMaggio had a good Series, batting .346 with three doubles and three RBIs. He received a warm reception when he returned to his home in San Francisco and was surprised when he was taken to city hall in the mayor’s car and was carried on the shoulders of admirers into the mayor’s office.

Joe was extremely quiet, although he did say that he would have a better season in 1937 because he had become more familiar with American League pitchers.

In the middle of October, the Baseball Writers’ Association of America announced the MVP results.

Lou Gehrig won the award, getting four of the eight first-place votes and a total of 73 points. It was Gehrig’s second MVP award. He had won it in 1927, the season that Babe Ruth set the single-season home run record, when the league decided the MVP winner.

DiMaggio finished with 26 votes, thanks to his .323 batting average, .576 slugging average, 29 home runs and 125 RBI.

In 1936, baseball rules required teams to send player contracts out no later than February 25. In late January, the Yankees mailed their contracts. The New York Times asked a question that is unbelievable today, at least to everyone but Derek Jeter.

“Principal interest in the speculation surrounding the documents centered about the question of rises or reductions for Lou Gehrig, Lefty Vernon Gomez, Charley (Red) Ruffing, jovial Pat Malone, and the spectacular Joe DiMaggio.”

“Gehrig is expected to do as well or better than last year while DiMaggio, a major league standout in his first year, can look forward to more than the $8,000 he collected for 1936”

Lou Gehrig was the MVP and Joe DiMaggio was the majors’ top rookie, yet the possibility of a pay cut for Gehrig was not considered a ridiculous possibility. Baseball teams sent players’ contract offers for either the same salary they made the previous season or a contract that contained a pay cut.

Both Gehrig and DiMaggio rejected the Yankees’ first offer.

In February, DiMaggio was offered $15,000 and Gehrig, who was asking for $50,000, was offered $31,000.

“Yankees’ owner Colonel Jacob Ruppert said that ‘somebody has to take a stand on this salary business and I’m taking it. No player is worth more than $31,000.'”

“Connie Mack once said that $25,000 was too big a salary, and I’m going him $6,000 better. The players, including Joe DiMaggio and the other Yankee holdouts have my ultimatum—take the contracts offered or leave them.”

DiMaggio, who was one of the first rookies in history to hold out, finally signed just before the opening of spring training for what was believed to be $17,500, despite Yankees manager Joe McCarthy’s statement that DiMaggio signed at the Yankees’ terms.

Gehrig finally signed for $36,000 and a $750 signing bonus, which made him baseball’s highest paid player.



* Dawson, James P. “DiMaggio Agrees to Ruppert Terms; Report Is That He Will Get $17,000 or More for Work in Yankee Outfield.” New York Times. 13 March 1937

* Dawson, James P. “Slight Concession Puts Gehrig in Line; Yankee Star Will Get $750 Bonus on Signing $36,000 Contract.” New York Times. 19 March 1937, p. 29.

* “DiMaggio Gets Welcome; Yankee Slugger Warmly Greeted by San Francisco Admirers.” New York Times. 14 October 1936, p. 35.

* “Second ‘Most Valuable’ Player Award Bolsters Gehrig’s All-Time Star Rating; Gehrig Ties Mark for Player Prize.” New York Times. 17 October 1936, p. 13.

* “Yankee Stars Hope for Word of Pay Increases; Contracts Mailed to Yankee Squad.” New York Times. 21 January 1937, p. 28.

* “Yanks Renew Effort to Satisfy DiMaggio; New Contract Reported at $15,000.” New York Times. 13 February 1937, p. 17.

* “Ruppert Unmoved by Holdout Pleas; Offer of $31,000 to Gehrig is Final; Colonel Says DiMaggio Received Substantial Rise, With This Year’s Record Doubtful.” New York Times. 25 February 1937, p. 27.

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New York Yankees: Video Tour of the Championship Years

The 27 New York Yankees World Series Championships span over 87 years, hitting every decade but the 1980’s.

I scoured YouTube for the best video representation for each of the Yankee Championship years and this is what developed – everything from Ken Burns to old Newsreels to television and radio broadcasts to fan video.

It is amazing actually how often some of the greatest moments in Yankee history happened to coincide with a year ending in a championship.  For example, DiMaggio’s hitting streak in 1941, the opening of both Yankee Stadiums in 1923 and 2009, Ruth’s 60th, and Maris 61st all occurred in championship years.  There’s more too, you’ll see.  It could be of course that there are just so many great Yankee moments and so many World Series titles that they happen to overlap.

Anyway, without much further adieu, here’s a quick Yankee video tour that looks at each of the 27 title years: a total of 61 clips, totaling nearly three hours for your indulgence. Final results included and a fact or two, too.

It’s a tour of American culture, as well. See and feel the evolution of the game, the player, the media, the fan, and American and Yankee history.


* * * * *

Then, check out Bleacher Report’s Yankees site for the latest in Yankees news.

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World Series 2010: Power Ranking the Top 40 Hitters in World Series History

With the World Series wrapped up and the Giants taking home baseball’s ultimate prize, now is a good time to look back at some of the best performers in the history of the Fall Classic.

Some of the best players in baseball history were either ineffective when it mattered most or never got the chance to play in the World Series. While at the same time, one of the most memorable moments in baseball history was given to us by a light-hitting second baseman named Bill Mazeroski.

So without further ado, here are the 40 greatest hitters in the history of the World Series.

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Dustin Moseley Blows Away Boston

It was supposed to be a matchup built for national television.  AJ Burnett vs. Josh Beckett, two hard-throwing, old-school pitchers facing off in Yankee Stadium.

All Yankee fans were salivating just thinking of it: Burnett pumping mid-90s fastballs by Red Sox hitters, lighting up the radar gun, fueling the Yankee Stadium crowd and shutting down the Red Sox.

When AJ is on, he is virtually unhittable.

But, AJ Burnett was scratched before last night’s game due to back spasms, and Dustin Moseley was called upon to step up, originally slated to pitch today at Yankee Stadium (Phil Hughes goes today against John Lester).

Moseley spent most of this season in Scranton/Wilkes Barre, going 4-4 with a 4.21 ERA before he was called up on July 2, 2010.

This young man is the exact opposite of AJ.  His fastball tops out at 90 mph, and he doesn’t possess shut-down stuff.  He relies on control to get outs, much like Greg Maddux.

Were Yankee fans optimistic about the game? Probably not, but the bottom line was that the Red Sox were preparing to face Burnett, not Moseley.  They had to make an adjustment as well.

Questions arose about Moseley.  Could he handle the atmosphere that is Yankees-Red Sox?  Was his stuff good enough?  And, could he keep the Yankees in this game against Beckett?

Facing an enormous challenge, Dustin Moseley stepped up and threw the game of his life.

As an emergency starter, Moseley out-dueled Josh Beckett last night at Yankee Stadium, pitching six and a third innings, allowing two hits, two runs and striking out five while leading the Yankees to a 7-2 victory over the Boston Red Sox.

And, like Maddux, he was striking out Marco Scutaro on a Maddux-like two-seam fastball that starts outside the zone and cuts back in the zone.

This was a big game for the Yankees.  They had a chance to gain a game on the Tampa Bay Rays after they lost 1-0 to the Toronto Blue Jays, and they were counting on Moseley to deliver.

And deliver he did.  Dustin Moseley deserves a lot of credit for his performance.

Perhaps the best thing for him was not knowing he was pitching last night.  He did not have time to think about his upcoming start the night before.  He had no time to think, he had to dwell on the Red Sox, ESPN Sunday Night Baseball, and the big stage.  He had to focus all of his energies on getting ready to pitch.

He didn’t just give the Yankees a chance to win.  He shut down the Red Sox and offered them no help.  He got it done in a big way.

He wasn’t even supposed to pitch today.  Good thing he did.


Follow Steve Henn on Twitter @steve_henn

Check Out The Experience, Steve Henn’s Yankee Blog

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Famous Fourth of July Moments: Lou Gehrig’s “Luckiest Man On Earth” Speech

The Fourth of July is best known as the anniversary of the date on which the United Stated proudly declared their independence from Britain, now 234 years ago. Today, we celebrate the day by spending time with family and friends, hosting BBQs, watching fireworks, and most importantly, remembering the forefathers of our great nation. 

Meanwhile, this day in history is also a memorable one in the world of sports. On July 4, 1939, former New York Yankees first baseman Lou Gehrig declared his final farewell “Luckiest Man On Earth” speech. 

Due to being diagnosed with a fatal disease known as Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS), Gehrig was forced to formally retire shortly before on June 21. 

Between a doubleheader against the Washington Senators, the team decided to hold the traditional retirement ceremonies. According to the New York Times , 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.”

Gehrig approached home plate and was first met by former teammate Babe Ruth and then-manager Joe McCarthy. When they left, Gehrig appeared to be too emotional to speak.

However, like always, his courage triumphed and he announced his famous speech, headlined by the signature line, “I consider myself the luckiest man on the face of the earth.” The speech alone was a prime example of a man who possessed prototypical sportsmanship, citizenship, and overall appreciation for life.

Immediately after the touching words, the fans that had come to pay tribute to their beloved hero applauded him for nearly two minutes, demonstrating how much he truly meant to the sport. 

During his career, Gehrig had accomplished things that many ballplayers can’t even dream of doing. He is a seven-time All Star, two-time AL MVP, a six-time World Series champion, and is a member of the 1900s All-Century Team.

Moreover, at only 36 years of age, he became the youngest man ever to be inducted into the National Baseball Hall of Fame after the Baseball Writers Association of America waived the five-year waiting period. As we speak, Gehrig is still arguably considered the finest first baseman ever. 

Unfortunately, the “Iron Horse” eventually died on June 2, 1941. However, to this day, his spirit and legacy remain more alive than ever in a place that he will never be forgotten—our hearts.


I wish you all a very happy (and safe) 4th of July!

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Lou Gehrig: An Underrated New York Yankee Legendary Ballplayer

The term underrated is thrown around quite frequently. It can be used to describe pretty much any situation, but is most often used for sports figures and their on-field exploits.

Yesterday, June 21st, was the 71st anniversary of Lou Gehrig’s retirement. While Gehrig removed himself from the Yankee lineup prior to the game on May 2, 1939, he remained with the team as captain for another six weeks.

Gehrig was one of the greatest all-around baseball players of all time, but much of his greatness was often overshadowed by the great Yankee teams and players. He was part of the first Yankee dynasty’s back in the mid-to-late 1920’s through the mid-1930’s.

He is widely considered the greatest first baseman of all time.

His records are numerous. He has the most grand slams with 23, has the most seasons with 400+ total bases with five (only four other players have two or more—Rogers Hornsby, Babe Ruth, Jimmie Foxx all had two, Philadelphia Phillies slugger Chuck Klein has three), and Gehrig AVERAGED 147 RBI per season.

Since Gehrig retired in 1939, only 16 times has 147 RBI in a single season even been eclipsed! It has only happened 52 total times, with Gehrig attaining this level seven times himself.

He hit 493 career home runs, accumulated a staggering 1,995 RBI, scored 1,888 runs, and had a career batting average of .340. At the time of his retirement, Gehrig was second all time in home runs, third in RBI, and third in runs scored.

But how can the greatest first baseman of all time, and the best run producer baseball has ever had, be underrated?

Easy. The biggest reason was the player he is most associated with, Babe Ruth.

Gehrig was overshadowed his entire career by the hitters who hit in front of him.

Gehrig wore uniform No. 4 because he hit fourth (cleanup) in the Yankee lineup. The player before him, Babe Ruth, wore uniform No. 3 because Ruth hit third, just in front of Gehrig.

Gehrig put up all those great production seasons even hitting immediately behind the other big run producer of that era. In 1927 when Ruth hit 60 HR’s and drove in 164 runs, Gehrig came to the plate at least 60 times with the bases empty.

But Gehrig made the most of his men on base opportunities, driving in an amazing 175 runs that 1927 season hitting behind Ruth. On a continuous basis, Gehrig was denied many opportunities to increase his statistics, and yet, still was the eras top RBI producer.

And it was not only Ruth, because two seasons after Ruth left the Yankees, they acquired Joe DiMaggio from the Pacific Coast League’s San Francisco Seals. The young Yankee Clipper phenom hit third in front of Gehrig for the remainder of Lou’s career.

Play on the field was not the only way both Ruth and DiMaggio overshadowed Gehrig.

Both Ruth and DiMaggio were huge personalities; Ruth very gregarious while Joe D. was a more quiet celebrity who was a private person, but certainly relished the New York nightlife.

Gehrig was more reserved, a quiet family man. He did not fraternize with others during the train rides or when they were on the 1934 Tour of Japan. He had Jan Brady syndrome, the middle child between big brother Babe and the young, talented brother DiMaggio.

While Gehrig was renowned as a slugger, his fielding and speed on the bases were vastly underrated.

Gehrig was swift around the first base bag, with quick feet and an innate ability to position himself correctly. His good footwork could have been a product of his time as a fullback for the Columbia University football team.

Gehrig had a career .990 fielding percentage at first base. Two of the best recent defensive first baseman in New York were Don Mattingly (.992) and Keith Hernandez (.994).

With terrible field conditions compared to the modern era and comparably deficient equipment, Gehrig still held his own percentage-wise compared to the first basemen of today.

Still, for a big guy, Gehrig had great speed. He did not steal bases, but in reading reports of that time showed Gehrig was one of the most fearless baserunners.

He scored from first base most of the time on doubles, accumulated 163 career triples, and hit six inside the park home runs. In 1926, he led the league with 20 three-baggers.

He also stole home an amazing 15 times in his career. Lou Brock never stole home.

Yet, even though Gehrig was an all-around ballplayer, not just a slugger, he is often overlooked when “the best players in history are discussed.”

Lou Gehrig played in seven World Series with the Yankees, with his team winning six titles. Gehrig dominated these contests, hitting .361 BA/.477 OBP/.731 SLG/1.208 OPS with 10 home runs and 35 RBI. All numbers which are considerable better than his career stats of .340/3447/.632/1.075 OPS.

His only “bad” series could be 1938, with the ALS disease already ravaging his body, when he only hit .286 with no extra base hits. Gehrig scored eight game winning runs in World Series competition. Yet it is Ruth’s gigantic 1928 Series against the Cardinals, and Ruth’s 1932 Game Three “Called Shot” which always got the headlines.

With his unknown deadly disease crippling him, Gehrig continued to play. His consecutive game streak is now toppled, but the stories are still there. Future X-rays of his hands revealed many broken bones which he played through, and he came back from a beaning in 1933, staying in that game.

It has been documented that once a person is diagnosed with ALS, the disease which now carries Gehrig’s name, the person usually lives about five years.

Gehrig lived only two years after diagnosis, indicating he played major league baseball at a high level with the disease for three seasons.

Yet he only thought about others. When he went to manager Joe McCarthy before taking himself out of the lineup, Lou said, “I’m benching myself for the good of the team.”

The consummate team player.

He was a great slugger, but also a great runner, fielder and person. Overshadowed throughout his career by Ruth and DiMaggio, many people only remember “The Iron Horse” from his consecutive game streak and the disease which took his life.

On June 3, 1932, Gehrig was the first 20th Century player to hit four home runs in one game, and would have had five if Philadelphia A’s center fielder Al Simmons did not rob Gehrig of another with a great over the shoulder catch.

With Shibe Park’s 470 foot distance to that area of the field, it probably would have been an inside the park homer.

After that game, McCarthy said to Lou, “Well, Lou, nobody can take today away from you.” On the same day, however, cross-town manager John McGraw announced his retirement after thirty years of managing the New York Giants.

McGraw, and not Gehrig, got the main headlines in the sports sections the next day. 

A typical occurrence for one of the most underrated players in baseball history.

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