Lou Gehrig’s Disease: A Closer Look at the Genetic Basis of Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis


Nariman Malik, BSc
Contributing Author,
Geriatrics & Aging.

Lou Gehrig: A Brief History
Lou Gehrig was born June 19, 1903 in New York City. He played for the New York Yankees from 1923 to 1939 and was one of the most famous first basemen in the history of major league baseball.1 The man known as the 'iron horse of baseball' and 'Columbia Lou' was originally recruited for only two games in 1923.2 However, this durable athlete went on to play in 2,130 consecutive games.3 In fact, he never missed a game until he voluntarily benched himself on May 2, 1939.

Gehrig had an impressive career. He had a lifetime batting average of .340, hit 493 home runs and was a four-time winner of the Most Valuable Player award.3 He was also inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame. The 1938 season had proven to be a bad one for Gehrig as he was not playing up to his usual standard. During spring training for the 1939 season, he began having trouble getting power behind the ball and had difficulty with his movements.2 Unhappy with his performance, Gehrig voluntarily benched himself.

Six weeks later, Gehrig was referred to the renowned Mayo Clinic where he was diagnosed with amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS). Gehrig was never told his true diagnosis and was unaware that the outcome was fatal. Only his wife and a few of her confidantes knew the true nature of Gehrig's illness.