Yankees: Best July 4 Moments in NYY History

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2. Lou Gehrig Says Farewell

Don’t cry. Don’t cry. Oh, we can’t help it! Lou Gehrig called it quits on July 4, 1939 and gave his famous speech in front of a sold out crowd at Yankee Stadium. A few weeks earlier on June 19, the Iron Horse was diagnosed with ALS, and he sadly knew his time as a professional ball player would come to an end.

That day was dubbed “Lou Gehrig Appreciation Day” at the stadium and it wasn’t long after the Yankees retired his No. 4, which was the first time any number was retired in baseball history.

The 1939 season was another World Series year for the Bombers, and they brought home the hardware in honor of one of the best players in franchise history. Joe DiMaggio and Co. swept the Cincinnati Reds in October. The saddest part about this is that Gehrig definitely had a number of top-notch years left in the tank.

He played in only nine games in 1939 due to his illness, but he was an All-Star the six seasons prior, winning a batting title, leading the league in home runs twice, RBI once, OBP four times, and OPS three times. In December of 1939, the Baseball Writers’ Association of America held a special vote because of his ALS diagnosis and elected him to the Hall of Fame, though he never had a formal ceremony.

Gehrig was legend in every sense of the word. He would unfortunately pass away less than two years later on June 2, 1941.