#2 Lou Gehrig
Ironically, it is the above video that most of us alive today remember Lou Gehrig . The “Iron Horse,” the man of steel who played in 2.130 consecutive games as a Yankee. A record that would stand the test of time until a young man by the name of Cal Ripken came along to surpass Gehrig’s record.
The speech, delivered by a man frail from a disease that is even today known as “Lou Gehrig Disease.” The man who offered solace to those who wished to give him the same by saying that he consider(ed) himself to be the luckiest man on the face of the earth.
Lou Gehrig collected 8 points to finish second in the ranking of the Yankees Top All-Time Run Producers. He finished no lower than third in all four categories and finished 1st in runs batted in. But as with the others, it far more than simply about the numbers.
“There is no room in baseball for discrimination. It is our national pastime and a game for all.” (Lou Gehrig)
Overshadowed by “The Babe,” Gehrig was content in reporting for work every day, taking the field and doing all he could to secure a Yankees win that day. Arriving from nearby Columbia University as a free agent, Gehrig made his debut in June of the same year at the age of nineteen.
He became a regular in 1925 and did not surrender his position in the lineup until he became afflicted with illness. A glance at his page in Baseball Reference shows it to be littered in black, the color used for league leaders. He won six World Series title as a Yankee, batting .361 in the Fall Classic. By the numbers, his best season occurred in 1934, when he led the American League in eight of the prime offensive categories, including a .363 BA, 49 Hr, and 166 RBI.
“The ballplayer who loses his head, who can’t keep his cool, is worse than no ballplayer at all.” (Lou Gehrig)
All of this for a top salary of $39,000 that he earned at the end of his career in 1940. It’s worthy to note that according to Dollar Times, that sum is the equivalent of $672,000 in today’s money, a mere $200,000 over the major league minimum salary today.
A member of the famed “Murderer’s Row” lineup, Gehrig teamed with his fellow Yankees to form what many consider to be the best team of all-time, the 1927 Yankees. In addition to the Babe, the famed lineup included such stars as Earle Combs, Mark Koenig, Bob Meusel, and Tony Lazzeri. All of which are names that appear as a footnote in Yankees history, but were instrumental in their supporting roles of the three and four hitters in the lineup.
Most of us live in darkness about Gehrig’s playing career. Having never had the opportunity to see him play, we can only rely on the numbers and the plaque that hangs in Cooperstown, attesting to the fact that this man was indeed a Hall Of Famer, and something very special. And that would be true not only in the annals of Yankees history but also in all of Major League Baseball.