New York Yankees: 50 greatest players of all-time

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player. 43. . 1B. 1923-39. Lou Gehrig. 2

Lou Gehrig was signed by the Yankees off the Columbia University campus in 1923 and immediately joined the big-league team before being sent down to the minors for more seasoning.

He spent more of 1923 and 1924 with the Hartford Senators in the International League. Gehrig made the Yankees out of spring training, but was stuck behind Wally Pipp for the first two months before being inserted into the lineup on June 2, 1925.

He had played the day before as a pinch hitter, marking the first of a then-record 2,130 games played, a streak that lasted until what would be his final game on April 30, 1939. Gehrig took himself out of the lineup, having been struggling at the plate and with fatigue.

He was diagnosed on June 19, his 36th birthday, with amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, or ALS. Per the Society for American Baseball Research, Gehrig was told he had an incurable disease which caused a hardening of the spinal cord, leading to deterioration of muscles and nerve endings.

He retired on June 21 and was honored on July 4, 1939, when he delivered the iconic speech that included the famous line:

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

Less than two years later, Gehrig died, on June 2, 1941 at the age of 37.

But for 17 seasons, he was one of the greatest to ever play the game, teaming with Babe Ruth to form the first dynamic power hitting duo in baseball history.

Gehrig was named AL MVP in 1927 — the year Ruth hit a then-record 60 home runs — and again in 1936. He led the AL in home runs three times and topped the circuit in RBI five times, including an AL-record 185 in 1931.

And he did it playing every single day for almost 14 straight years.

In his 17 years with the Yankees, Gehrig hit .340/.447/1.080 with an OPS+ of 179 while clubbing 493 home runs to go with 1,995 RBI and 1,888 runs scored.

He was runner up for MVP twice, in 1931 and 1932, and was named to the first seven All-Star games, although he did not play in the 1939 contest.

In seven World Series, Gehrig hit .361/.483/1.214 in 34 games with 10 home runs, 35 RBI and 30 runs scored.

Gehrig was inducted into the Hall of Fame via special election in 1939.