July 4th: The Luckiest Man

The Baseball Continuum

It was July 4th, 1939. Lou Gehrig was a dying man. Earlier that year, he’d ended his 2,130 consecutive game streak, taking himself out before a game in Detroit for the good of the team (he was hitting .143 with an RBI). A visit to the Mayo Clinic in June confirmed the worst: he had Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis, the disease that now carries his name. Although his mind would remain intact, his body would slowly betray him. Although his wife had told the doctors to try and withhold some of the more horrible details of the diagnosis from him, there is evidence to suggest that Lou knew, somehow, that he was on his way out. He announced his retirement from the game he loved.

So it was on Independence Day that the Yankees held a day in his honor. They retired his number 4- the first in baseball to be…

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