Lou Gehrig Day at Yankee Stadium

Written by: Craig Muder

The image is replayed around the world every day.

Gary Cooper, portraying Lou Gehrig, standing in front of those microphones, uttering those words.

"Today, I consider myself, the luckiest man on the face of the earth."

The movie The Pride of the Yankees captured that moment forever, crystallizing July 4, 1939, in the minds of baseball fans. That day, the Yankees first baseman was honored with Lou Gehrig Day, giving the 61,808 fans at Yankee Stadium – and countless more listening on the radio – the chance to pay tribute to one of baseball's greatest players.

Gehrig's uniform No. 4 was retired that afternoon, making Gehrig the first Major League player to earn that honor. He was inducted into the National Baseball Hall of Fame that same year.

Less than two years later, on June 2, 1941, Gehrig – only 37 – succumbed to amyotrophic lateral sclerosis. The rare illness soon became known as Lou Gehrig's Disease.

Lou Gehrig played 17 seasons for the New York Yankees, winning seven pennants and six World Series titles before his retirement in 1939. (National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum)

Gehrig played 17 seasons for the Yankees. In the 14 seasons in which he appeared in more than 13 games, he amassed all but one of his 493 homers and 1,980 of his 1,995 RBIs -- averaging 35 homers and 141 RBIs per full season. He finished his career with a remarkable .340 batting average and 23 grand slams.

Most famously, Gehrig played in 2,130 consecutive games, baseball's standard until it was surpassed by Cal Ripken Jr. in 1995.

Craig Muder is director of communications for the National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum.
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