Baseball History: Cal Ripkin Breaks Lou Gehrig’s Streak
One of baseball’s greatest accomplishments ‘began’ on June 1, 1925 when Lou Gehrig took over first base for Wally Pipp and started his consecutive games streak. It was July 4th, 1939, Gehrig made his famous retirement speech.
Gehrig was signed by the New York Yankees in 1923 for a salary of $2,400 and played with the team until 1939 when illness forced his retirement. In 1939 he was elected to the baseball hall of fame and was the first MLB to have his uniform number retired.
Gehrig was known as the ‘iron horse’ and played 2,130 consecutive games, a record that stood for 56 years until Cal Ripken Jr. broke it at 2,632 on September 6, 1995. Gehrig ended his streak voluntarily when he took himself out of the lineup because his health was failing.
Gehrig was informed he suffered from ‘amyotrophic lateral sclerosis’ or ALS, a disease that strips nerve cells and their ability to interact with muscles. The disease became known as ‘Lou Gehrig’ disease.
Not long after he retired the Yankees brought him back to Yankee Stadium to honor him. On July 4th 1939, wearing his old Yankee uniform, Gehrig said goodbye to his fans in a short, and now famous speech.