Remember When Lou Gehrig Broke This Baseball Record?

Lou Gehrig was once known as the Iron Horse of baseball, particularly for the fact that he played in the Yankees starting lineup for a record 14 years until one day, he couldn’t. On August 17, 1933, Gehrig broke a baseball record when he recorded his 1,308th consecutive game.

Lou Gehrig whacks a double into left center in a game at Yankee Stadium in 1938. Luke Sewell is the catcher for the opponent White Sox.
Mark Rucker/Transcendental Graphics, Getty Images
Mark Rucker/Transcendental Graphics, Getty Images

Gehrig achieved the record at Sportsman’s Park against the St. Louis Browns. The record for most consecutive games played was previously held by shortstop Everett Scott, whose streak began in June 1916 and ended nine years later in May 1925. Scott played a total of 1,307 consecutive games. Coincidentally, Scott was at the St. Louis Browns game to witness Lou Gehrig surpass his record in 1933.

Several years earlier on June 2, 1925, Gehrig got to start over Wally Pipp, who had to sit out a game due to a headache. From that point on, Gehrig was in the starting lineup for the New York Yankees every day for the next 14 years. He played a record 2,130 straight games which made him one of the best baseball players of his time. Unfortunately, his streak came to an end in 1939.

Despite the Yankees winning a third straight World Series in 1938, it was clear that Gehrig’s performance wasn’t what it used to be. For Spring Training the following season, he began feeling muscle fatigue and was losing his coordination on the field. Finally, on May 1, 1939, Gehrig asked manager Joe McCarthy to take him out of the lineup, thus ending his playing streak.

Gehrig was diagnosed with ALS, which has become known as a disease that bears his name. One can only imagine how much longer his playing streak could have gone on if not for the disease that would take his life a couple of years later in 1941.