Club Feet or Foot Series-Disabled Legend Jim Mecir

James Jason Mecir was born on 16 May, 1970 in Queens, New York. Jim Mecir is an American former baseball player. Jim Mecir played for 5 teams in an 11-year career, and retired from the Florida Marlins in 2005. Jim Mecir is a right-handed pitcher.

Jim Mecir is notable for having overcome a birth defect (namely club feet) to become an effective Major League pitcher, as well as for being the last pitcher to regularly throw a screwball. Jim Mecir spent 4½ years as a member of the Oakland Athletics, and is prominently mentioned in Michael Lewis’s bestselling book Moneyball: The Art of Winning an Unfair Game.

Jim Mecir was drafted by the Seattle Mariners from Eckerd College in the 3rd round of the 1991 amateur draft. Jim Mecir played for the Seattle Mariners in 1995, the New York Yankees in 1996 and 1997, the Tampa Bay Devil Rays from 1998 to 2000, the Oakland Athletics from 2001 to 2004, before spending the last year of his career with the Marlins. Jim Mecir announced his retirement on 2 October, 2005 following the Marlins’ last game of the season.

In 2003, Jim Mecir received the Tony Conigliaro Award, given annually to the player who most effectively overcomes adversity to succeed in baseball. Jim Mecir was born with 2 club feet; despite several childhood surgeries that enabled him to walk, he was left unable to properly push off the rubber with his right foot. Jim Mecir was forced to develop an unorthodox delivery that gave him an unusually violent screwball. Jim Mecir was one of the last screwball pitchers active in the major leagues.

Jim Mecir was inadvertently involved in a controversy which began on 15 May, 2005. On that Sunday, Jim Mecir pitched poorly in a game against the Padres, and ESPN analyst John Kruk cited Jim Mecir’s limp when he walked to the mound as evidence that the Marlins were negligent for asking Jim Mecir to pitch while he appeared to be injured. John Kruk was apparently unaware of Jim Mecir’s birth defect, and he came under heavy public criticism for being insensitive, although Jim Mecir himself did not appear to take offense when informed of the remark.

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Club Feet or Foot Series-Disabled Legend Freddy Sanchez

Frederick Phillip “Freddy” Sanchez, Jr. was born on 21 December, 1977 in Hollywood, California, USA. Freddy Sanchez is an infielder in Major League Baseball. Since 2002, Freddy Sanchez has played for the Boston Red Sox (2002-03) and Pittsburgh Pirates
(2003-Present). Freddy Sanchez bats and throws right-handed.

Freddy Sanchez graduated in 1996 from Burbank High School in Burbank, California, where he was a consistent 3 year varsity player. In his senior year he was named MVP of the talent-filled foothill league of the CIF. Freddy Sanchez also starred in the Daily News Bernie Milligan All-Star Game, where he earned MVP honours. While in high school, he played on the same summer league team as current teammate Jack Wilson. (At the time Freddy Sanchez played the more demanding shortstop position while Jack Wilson played 2nd base.)

Freddy Sanchez’s success in high school was nothing short of miraculous. Freddy Sanchez was born with a severely pigeon-toed left foot and a club right foot, and his parents had received a medical diagnosis that he might never walk. Freddy Sanchez underwent surgery to correct his foot problems at 13 months, and then had to undergo years of physical therapy before he could walk properly.

Freddy Sanchez was drafted by the Atlanta Braves in the 30th round of the 1st year player draft, but opted not to sign. Freddy Sanchez went to Glendale Community College for 2 years, where he led the team to a co-championship in the Western State Conference, which was also the college’s 1st playoff appearance since 1981. Freddy Sanchez transferred to Dallas Baptist University as a Junior, where he played in the NAIA College World Series. In his senior year, he transferred to Oklahoma City University in 2000, where he was named a NAIA All-Star.

Freddy Sanchez was originally signed by Boston Red Sox scout Ernie Jacobs after being selected in the 11th round of the 2000 draft. In the 2000 season, he split the year between Single-A Lowell and Augusta. For Lowell he hit 288, and for Augusta he hit 301. Freddy Sanchez began 2001 playing for Single-A Sarasota, where he hit a Red Sox minor league system best of 339. Freddy Sanchez quickly moved up to Double-A Trenton, where he hit well above the 300 mark for all of his time there, including above 400 in his 1st 10 games.

On 2 August, 2002, Freddy Sanchez was called up from Triple-A Pawtucket, and made his major league debut for the Red Sox on the 10th against Tampa Bay. Freddy Sanchez went 1-for-2 with a pinch-hit 2-run single. The 2003 season saw him optioned back and forth between the Red Sox and Pawtucket. Eventually, Freddy Sanchez was acquired by the Pittsburgh Pirates on 31 July for Jeff Suppan, and was assigned to Triple-A Nashville; he played only 1 game there before an ankle injury forced him onto the disabled list.

Freddy Sanchez spent most of the 2004 season on the disabled list because of the ankle injury, and did not play until July; he joined the major league roster in September.

2005 was Freddy Sanchez’s 1st full season in the major leagues. Freddy Sanchez began the season as a backup infielder, but ended up playing in a majority of the team’s games due to injuries and poor performance by other players. Freddy Sanchez appeared in 132 games and made 100 starts (39 at second base, 6 at shortstop and 55 at 3rd base), compiling a 291 batting average with 5 home runs and 35 RBI.

Despite his impressive finish to 2005, Freddy Sanchez began the 2006 season as a bench player. When 3rd baseman Joe Randa suffered an injury on 6 May, Freddy Sanchez took over the position.

Freddy Sanchez received over 850,000 write-in votes for the 2006 All-Star Game, the most of all MLB players. Freddy Sanchez made the National All-Star squad as a reserve selected by NL manager and former Pirate Phil Garner. Freddy Sanchez entered the game in the 5th inning at shortstop, replacing perennial All-Star Edgar Rentería. Freddy Sanchez made a stellar leaping catch which was the defensive play of the game. Freddy Sanchez finished the game at 2nd base and went 0 for 2 at the plate with 2 ground-outs.

A local reporter has dubbed 2006 Freddy Sanchez’s “storybook season” for his rise from a high-ceiling, limited-visibility prospect to an All-Star and batting champion. Freddy Sanchez’s coach, Jim Tracy, admitted his surprise and praised him, “If you handed out ballots at the start of the season listing potential candidates to win the National League batting championship, I don’t know that his name would have been on it. Now? He’s a guy people are going to keep an eye on for many years to come.”

Beyond this amazing accomplishment, Freddy Sanchez reached the coveted 200 hit mark for the season. Though it was said that he lacked power, he showed nice pop in his bat by leading the National League in doubles with 53. Freddy Sanchez also tacked on 85 RBIs. Freddy Sanchez led the majors in line drive percentage (27.5%). After the season, Freddy Sanchez received the Tony Conigliaro Award for having overcome his physical adversities.

In early January 2006 his Burbank High School Bulldog baseball jersey number “21” was retired during a ceremony hosted by the school and city officials. The day was declared “Freddy Sanchez” day. In January 2007, Freddy Sanchez was voted one of Pittsburgh’s most 25 beautiful people by Pittsburgh Magazine. Freddy Sanchez became the 1st Pirate to win a batting title since Bill Madlock in 1983. Freddy Sanchez won the award for Pittsburgh, beating Florida Marlins 3rd baseman Miguel Cabrera on the last day of the 2006 season. Freddy Sanchez made his MLB All-Star Game debut in his own ballpark at PNC Park in 2006 with fellow teammate Jason Bay as the starter for the Pirates.

In 2007, Freddy Sanchez was moved to 2nd base, replacing Jose Castillo. Freddy Sanchez, was also named to the 2007 National League All-Star as a reserve. Freddy Sanchez was selected by Tony LaRussa, and was the only Pirate on the All-Star team. It was his 2nd straight year for Freddy Sanchez to attend the All-Star game.

On 26 January, 2008, Freddy Sanchez’ wife Alissa gave birth to their 2nd son, Ryan Anthony. Shortly following on 5 February, the Pirates and Freddy Sanchez agreed to a multi year deal. Freddy Sanchez’s contract guarantees him 2 seasons with the Pirates and a club option for 2010 that could become a guaranteed year if Freddy Sanchez meets certain performance criteria in 2009. The 2010 option takes the place of Freddy Sanchez’s 1st year of free agency. The contract could pay the 2 time All-Star 2nd baseman up to $18.9,000,000.

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Club Feet or Foot Series-Disabled Legend Lawrence Sherry

Lawrence Sherry was born on 25 July, 1935 and died on 17 December, 2006. Lawrence Sherry was an American right-handed relief pitcher in Major League Baseball who spent most of his career with the Los Angeles Dodgers and Detroit Tigers. Lawrence Sherry was named the Most Valuable Player of the 1959 World Series as the Dodgers won their 1st championship since relocating from Brooklyn just 2 years earlier. Lawrence Sherry was born with clubfeet for which he needed surgery as an infant and wore special shoes.

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Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) Series-Disabled Legend Lou Gehrig

Lou Gehrig Henry Louis “Lou” Gehrig was born on 19 June, 1903 in the Yorkville section of Manhattan, USA and died on 2 June, 1941, at 10:10 p.m., 16 years to the day after he replaced Wally Pipp at first base, Henry Louis Gehrig died at his home at 5204 Delafield Avenue, in the Fieldston section of the Bronx, New York.

Upon hearing the news, Babe Ruth and his wife Claire went to the Gehrig’s house to console Eleanor. Mayor LaGuardia ordered flags in New York to be flown at half-staff, and Major League ballparks around the nation did likewise.

Following the funeral at Christ Episcopal Church of Riverdale, Lou Gehrig’s remains were cremated and interred on 4 June at Kensico Cemetery in Valhalla, New York. Lou Gehrig and Ed Barrow are both interred in the same section of Kensico Cemetery, which is next door to Gate of Heaven Cemetery, where the graves of Babe Ruth and Billy Martin are located.

Lou Gehrig’s headstone in Kensico Cemetery (the year of his birth was inscribed erroneously as 1905) Eleanor Gehrig never remarried following her husband’s passing, dedicating the rest of her life to supporting ALS research. Eleanor died on 6 March, 1984, on her 80th birthday. They had no children.

The Yankees dedicated a monument to Lou Gehrig in center field at Yankee Stadium on 6 July, 1941, the shrine lauding him as, “A man, a gentleman and a great ballplayer whose amazing record of 2,130 consecutive games should stand for all time.” Lou Gehrig’s monument joined the one placed there in 1932 to Miller Huggins, which would eventually be followed by Babe Ruth’s in 1949.

Lou Gehrig’s birthplace in Manhattan, 1994 Second Avenue (near E. 103rd Street), is memorialised with a plaque marking the site. Another early residence on E. 94th Street (near Second Avenue) is noted with a plaque. The Gehrigs’ white house at 5204 Delafield Avenue in the Riverdale section of the Bronx, where Lou Gehrig died, still stands today on the east side of the Henry Hudson Parkway and is likewise marked by a plaque.

Born Ludwig Heinrich Gehrig was an American baseball player in the 1920s and 1930s, chiefly remembered for his prowess as a hitter and the longevity of his consecutive games played record, which stood for more than a half-century, and the pathos of his tearful farewell from baseball at age 36, when he was stricken with a fatal disease. Popularly called “The Iron Horse” for his durability, Lou Gehrig set several Major League records. Lou Gehrig’s record for most career grand slam home runs (23) still stands as of 2008. Lou Gehrig was voted the greatest first baseman of all time by the Baseball Writers’ Association. Lou Gehrig was the leading vote-getter on the Major League Baseball All-Century Team, chosen by fans in 1999.

Lou Gehrig was a native of New York City, he played for the New York Yankees until his career was cut short by amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), now commonly referred to in the United States as Lou Gehrig’s Disease. Over a 15-season span between 1925 and 1939, he played in 2,130 consecutive games. The streak ended when Lou Gehrig became disabled with the fatal neuromuscular disease that claimed his life 2 years later. Lou Gehrig’s streak, long believed to be one of baseball’s few unbreakable records, stood for 56 years until finally broken by Cal Ripken, Jr., of the Baltimore Orioles on 6 September, 1995.

Lou Gehrig accumulated 1,995 runs batted in (RBIs) in 17 seasons with a lifetime batting average of .340, a lifetime on-base percentage of .447, and a lifetime slugging percentage of .632. A 7 time All-Star (the first All-Star game was not until 1933; he did not play in the 1939 game, retiring a week before it was held — at Yankee Stadium), he won the American League’s Most Valuable Player award in 1927 and 1936 and was a Triple Crown winner in 1934, leading the American League in batting average, home runs, and RBIs.

Lou Gehrig weighed almost 14 pounds (6.4 kg) at birth, the son of poor German immigrants Heinrich Gehrig and Christina Fack. Lou Gehrig’s father was a sheet metal worker by trade, but frequently unemployed due to ill health, so his mother was the breadwinner and disciplinarian. Both parents considered baseball to be a schoolyard game; his domineering mother steered young Lou Gehrig toward a career in business.

Lou Gehrig went to PS 132 in the Washington Heights section of Manhattan and then to Commerce High School, graduating in 1921. Lou Gehrig then studied at Columbia University for 2 years, although he did not graduate. While attending Columbia, he was a member of Phi Delta Theta fraternity. Initially, Lou Gehrig could not play intercollegiate baseball for the Columbia Lions because he had played baseball for a summer professional league during his freshman year. At the time, he was unaware that doing so jeopardised his eligibility to play any collegiate sport. Lou Gehrig was ruled eligible to play on the Lions’ football team and was a standout fullback. Lou Gehrig later gained baseball eligibility and joined the Lions on that squad as well.

Lou Gehrig first garnered national attention for his baseball ability while playing in a game at Cubs Park (now Wrigley Field) on June 26, 1920. Lou Gehrig’s New York School of Commerce team was playing a team from Chicago’s Lane Tech High School, in front of a crowd of more than 10,000 spectators. With his team winning 8-6 in the top of the ninth inning, Lou Gehrig hit a grand slam completely out of the Major League ballpark, an unheard-of feat for a 17-year old high school boy.

Lou Gehrig on the Columbia University baseball team On 18 April, 1923 the same day that Yankee Stadium opened for the first time and Babe Ruth inaugurated the new stadium with a home run, Columbia pitcher Lou Gehrig struck out 17 Williams batters for a team record. However, Columbia lost the game. Only a handful of collegians were at South Field that day, but more significant was the presence of Yankee scout Paul Krichell, who had been trailing Lou Gehrig for some time. It was not Lou Gehrig’s pitching that particularly impressed him. Instead, it was Lou Gehrig’s powerful left-handed hitting. During the time Krichell had been observing the young Columbia ballplayer, Lou Gehrig had hit some of the longest home runs ever seen on various Eastern campuses, including a 450-foot (137 m) home run on 28 April at Columbia’s South Field which landed at 116th Street and Broadway. Within 2 months, Lou Gehrig had signed a Yankee contract.

Lou Gehrig joined the New York Yankees midway through the 1923 season and made his debut on 15 June 1923, as a pinch hitter. In his first 2 seasons, he saw limited playing time, mostly as a pinch hitter — he played in only 23 games and was not on the Yankees’ 1923 World Series roster. In 1925, he batted 437 times for a respectable .295 batting average with 20 home runs and 68 runs batted in (RBIs).

Babe Ruth and Lou Gehrig in exhibition game at West Point, NY (May 6, 1927) The 23 year old Yankee first baseman’s breakout season came in 1926, when he batted .313 with 47 doubles, an American League leading 20 triples, 16 home runs, and 112 RBIs. In the 1926 World Series against the St. Louis Cardinals, Lou Gehrig hit .348 with  2 doubles and 4 RBIs. The Cardinals won a 7 game series, winning 4 games to 3.

In 1927, Lou Gehrig put up one of the greatest seasons by any batter in history. That year, he hit .373, with 218 hits: 52 doubles, 18 triples, 47 home runs, 175 runs batted in, and a .765 slugging percentage.

Despite playing in the shadow of the larger-than-life Ruth for 2/3 of his career, Lou Gehrig was one of the highest run producers in baseball history: he had 509 RBIs during a 3 season stretch (1930-32). Only 2 other players, Jimmie Foxx with 507 and Hank Greenberg with 503, have surpassed 500 RBIs in any 3 seasons; their totals were non-consecutive. (Babe Ruth had 498.) Playing 14 complete seasons, Lou Gehrig had 13 consecutive seasons with 100 or better RBIs (a Major League record he shares with Jimmie Foxx). Lou Gehrig had 6 seasons where he batted .350 or better (with a high of .379 in 1930), plus a 7th season at .349. Lou Gehrig had 8 seasons with 150 or more RBIs, 11 seasons with over 100 walks, 8 seasons with 200 or more hits, and 5 seasons with more than 40 home runs. Lou Gehrig led the American League in runs scored 4 times, home runs 3 times, and RBIs 5 times. Lou Gehrig’s 184 RBIs in 1931 is still an American League record as of 2008 and second all-time to Hack Wilson’s 191 RBIs in 1930. 3 of the top 6 RBI seasons in baseball history were Lou Gehrig’s. Lou Gehrig also holds the baseball record for most seasons with 400 total bases or more, accomplishing this feat 5 times in his career.

During the 10 seasons (1925-1934) in which Lou Gehrig and Ruth were both Yankees and played a majority of games, Lou Gehrig had more home runs than Ruth only once, in 1934, when he hit 49 compared to Ruth’s 22 (Ruth played 125 games that year). They tied at 46 in 1931. Ruth had 424 home runs compared to Lou Gehrig’s 347. Lou Gehrig had more RBIs in 7 years (1925, 1927, 1930-1934) and they tied in 1928. Ruth had 1,316 RBIs compared to Lou Gehrig’s 1,436, although the latter had more hits in 8 years (1925, 1927-28, 1930-34) and a higher slugging percentage in 2 years (1933-34). Lou Gehrig also had a higher batting average in 7 years (1925, 1927-28, 1930, 1932-34). For that span, Lou Gehrig had a .343 batting average, compared to .338 for Ruth.

Lou Gehrig and Carl Hubbell on 1936 Time Magazine coverIn 1932, Lou Gehrig became the first player of the 20th century to hit 4 home runs in a single game, accomplishing the feat on 3 June against the Philadelphia Athletics. Lou Gehrig narrowly missed getting a 5th home run in the game when Athletics center fielder Al Simmons made a leaping catch of another Lou Gehrig-hit fly ball at the centerfield fence. After the game, Manager Joe McCarthy told him, “Well, Lou, nobody can take today away from you…” However, on that same day, John McGraw chose to announce his retirement after 30 years of managing the New York Giants, and so McGraw, not Lou Gehrig, got the headlines in the sports sections the next day and Lou Gehrig, as usual, was overshadowed. The following year, in September 1933, Lou Gehrig married Eleanor Twitchell, the daughter of Chicago Parks Commissioner Frank Twitchell.

In a 1936 World Series cover story about Lou Gehrig and Carl Hubbell, Time magazine proclaimed Lou Gehrig “the game’s No. 1 batsman”, who “takes boyish pride in banging a baseball as far, and running around the bases as quickly, as possible”.

On 1 June 1925, Lou Gehrig entered the game as a pinch hitter, substituting for shortstop Paul “Pee Wee” Wanninger. The next day, 2 June, Yankee manager Miller Huggins started Lou Gehrig in place of regular first baseman Wally Pipp. Wally Pipp was in a slump, as were the Yankees as a team, so Miller Huggins made several lineup changes to boost their performance. 14 years later, Lou Gehrig had played 2,130 consecutive games. In a few instances, Lou Gehrig managed to keep the streak intact through pinch hitting appearances and fortuitous timing; in others, the streak continued despite injuries. For example:

On 23 April 1933, an errant pitch by Washington Senators hurler struck Lou Gehrig in the head. Although almost knocked unconscious, Lou Gehrig recovered and remained in the game.

On 14 June 1933, Lou Gehrig was ejected from a game, along with manager Joe McCarthy, but he had already been at bat, so he got credit for playing the game.

On 13 July 1934, Lou Gehrig suffered a “lumbago attack” and had to be assisted off the field. In the next day’s away game, he was listed in the lineup as “shortstop”, batting lead-off. In his first and only plate appearance, he singled and was promptly replaced by a pinch runner to rest his throbbing back, never taking the field. A&E’s Biography speculated that this illness, which he also described as “a cold in his back”, might have been the first symptom of his debilitating disease.

In addition, X-rays taken late in his life disclosed that Lou Gehrig had sustained several fractures during his playing career, although he remained in the lineup despite those previously undisclosed injuries.

Lou Gehrig’s record of 2,130 consecutive games played stood until 6 September, 1995, when Baltimore Orioles shortstop Cal Ripken, Jr. played in his 2,131st consecutive game to establish a new record.

Plaque in St. Petersburg, Fla., where Lou Gehrig collapsed in 1939 during spring training At the midpoint of the 1938 season, Lou Gehrig’s performance began to diminish. At the end of that season, he said, “I tired mid season. I don’t know why, but I just couldn’t get going again.” Although his final 1938 stats were respectable (.295 batting average, 114 RBIs, 170 hits, .523 slugging percentage, 689 plate appearances with only 75 strikeouts, and 29 home runs), it was a dramatic drop from his 1937 season (when he batted .351 and slugged .643). In the 1938 post-season his batting average was .286 and all 4 of his hits were singles.

When the Yankees began their 1939 spring training in St. Petersburg, Florida, it was obvious that Lou Gehrig no longer possessed his once-formidable power. Even Lou Gehrig’s base running was affected, and at one point he collapsed at Al Lang Field, the Yankees’ spring training park at the time in St. Petersburg. By the end of spring training, Lou Gehrig had not hit even one home run. Throughout his career, Lou Gehrig was considered an excellent runner on the basepaths, but as the 1939 season got underway, his co-ordination and speed had deteriorated significantly.

By the end of April, his statistics were the worst of his career, with just 1 RBI and a .143 batting average. Fans and the press openly speculated on Lou Gehrig’s abrupt decline. James Kahn, a reporter who wrote often about Lou Gehrig, said in one article:

I think there is something wrong with him. Physically wrong, I mean. I don’t know what it is, but I am satisfied that it goes far beyond his ball-playing. I have seen ballplayers ‘go’ overnight, as lou Gehrig seems to have done. But they were simply washed up as ballplayers. It’s something deeper than that in this case, though. I have watched him very closely and this is what I have seen: I have seen him time a ball perfectly, swing on it as hard as he can, meet it squarely — and drive a soft, looping fly over the infield. In other words, for some reason that I do not know, his old power isn’t there… Lou Gehrig is meeting the ball, time after time, and it isn’t going anywhere.

Lou Gehrig was indeed meeting the ball, with only one strikeout in 28 at-bats. But Joe McCarthy found himself resisting pressure from Yankee management to switch Lou Gehrig to a part-time role. Things came to a head when Lou Gehrig had to struggle to make a routine put-out at first base. The pitcher, Johnny Murphy, had to wait for Lou Gehrig to drag himself over to the bag so he could catch Murphy’s throw. Murphy said, “Nice play, Lou.”

On 30 April, Lou Gehrig went hitless against the weak Washington Senators. LouGehrig had just played his 2,130th consecutive Major League game.

On 2 May, the next game after a day off, Lou Gehrig approached Joe McCarthy before the game in Detroit against the Tigers and said, “I’m benching myself, Joe”, telling the Yankees’ skipper that he was doing so “for the good of the team”. Joe McCarthy acquiesced and put Ellsworth “Babe” Dahlgren in at first base, and also said that whenever Gehrig wanted to play again, the position was his. Gehrig himself took the lineup card out to the shocked umpires before the game, ending the 14-year stamina streak. Before the game began, the Briggs Stadium announcer told the fans, “Ladies and gentlemen, this is the first time Lou Gehrig’s name will not appear on the Yankee lineup in 2,130 consecutive games.” The Detroit Tigers fans gave Lou Gehrig a standing ovation while he sat on the bench with tears in his eyes. Lou Gehrig stayed with the Yankees as team captain for a few more weeks, but he never played baseball again.

As Lou Gehrig’s debilitation became steadily worse, Eleanor called the famed Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minnesota. Eleanor’s call was transferred to Dr. Charles William Mayo, who had been following Lou Gehrig’s career and his mysterious loss of strength. Dr. Mayo told Eleanor to bring Lou Gehrig as soon as possible.

Eleanor and Lou Gehrig flew to Rochester from Chicago, where the Yankees were playing at the time, arriving at the Mayo Clinic on 13 June, 1939. After 6 days of extensive testing at Mayo Clinic, the diagnosis of amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) was confirmed on 19 June, Lou Gehrig’s 36th birthday. The prognosis was grim: rapidly increasing paralysis, difficulty in swallowing and speaking, and a life expectancy of fewer than 3 years, although there would be no impairment of mental functions. Eleanor Gehrig was told that the cause of ALS was unknown but it was painless, non-contagious and cruel — the central nervous system is destroyed but the mind remains fully aware to the end.

Lou Gehrig often wrote letters to Eleanor, and in one such note written shortly afterwards, said (in part):

The bad news is lateral sclerosis, in our language chronic infantile paralysis. There isn’t any cure… there are very few of these cases. It is probably caused by some germ…Never heard of transmitting it to mates… There is a 50-50 chance of keeping me as I am. I may need a cane in 10 or 15 years. Playing is out of the question…

Following Lou Gehrig’s visit to the Mayo Clinic, he briefly rejoined the Yankees in Washington, DC. As his train pulled into Union Station, he was greeted by a group of Boy Scouts, happily waving and wishing him luck. Lou Gehrig waved back, but he leaned forward to his companion, a reporter, and said, “They’re wishing me luck — and I’m dying.”

 On 21 June, the New York Yankees announced Lou Gehrig’s retirement and proclaimed 4 July, 1939, “Lou Gehrig Appreciation Day” at Yankee Stadium. Between games of the Independence Day doubleheader against the Washington Senators, the poignant ceremonies were held on the diamond. In its coverage the following day, The New York Times said it was “Perhaps as colourful and dramatic a pageant as ever was enacted on a baseball field [as] 61,808 fans thundered a hail and farewell”. Dignitaries extolled the dying slugger and the members of the 1927 Yankees World Championship team, known as “Murderer’s Row”, attended the ceremonies. New York Mayor Fiorello La Guardia called Lou Gehrig “the greatest prototype of good sportsmanship and citizenship” and Postmaster General James Farley concluded his speech by predicting, “For generations to come, boys who play baseball will point with pride to your record.”

Yankees Manager Joe McCarthy, struggling to control his emotions, then spoke of Lou Gehrig, with whom there was a close, almost father and son-like bond. After describing Lou Gehrig as “the finest example of a ballplayer, sportsman, and citizen that baseball has ever known”, Joe McCarthy could stand it no longer. Turning tearfully to Lou Gehrig, the manager said, “Lou, what else can I say except that it was a sad day in the life of everybody who knew you when you came into my hotel room that day in Detroit and told me you were quitting as a ballplayer because you felt yourself a hindrance to the team. My God, man, you were never that.”

The Yankees retired Lou Gehrig’s uniform number “4”, making him the first player in Major League Baseball history to be accorded that honor. Lou Gehrig was given many gifts, commemorative plaques, and trophies. Some came from VIPs; others came from the stadium’s groundskeepers and janitorial staff. Footage of the ceremonies shows Lou Gehrig being handed various gifts, and immediately setting them down on the ground, because he no longer had the arm strength to hold them. The Yankees gave him a silver trophy with their signatures engraved on it. Inscribed on the front was a special poem written by The New York Times writer John Kieran. The trophy cost only about $5, but it became one of Lou Gehrig’s most prized possessions. It is currently on display at the Baseball Hall of Fame.

After the presentations and remarks by Babe Ruth, Lou Gehrig addressed the crowd:

“Fans, for the past 2 weeks you have been reading about the bad break I got. Yet today I consider myself the luckiest man on the face of the earth. I have been in ballparks for 17 years and have never received anything but kindness and encouragement from you fans.

“Look at these grand men. Which of you wouldn’t consider it the highlight of his career just to associate with them for even one day? Sure, I’m lucky. Who wouldn’t consider it an honor to have known Jacob Ruppert? Also, the builder of baseball’s greatest empire, Ed Barrow? To have spent 6 years with that wonderful little fellow, Miller Huggins? Then to have spent the next 9 years with that outstanding leader, that smart student of psychology, the best manager in baseball today, Joe McCarthy? Sure, I’m lucky.

“When the New York Giants, a team you would give your right arm to beat, and vice versa, sends you a gift — that’s something. When everybody down to the groundskeepers and those boys in white coats remember you with trophies — that’s something. When you have a wonderful mother-in-law who takes sides with you in squabbles with her own daughter — that’s something. When you have a father and a mother who work all their lives so that you can have an education and build your body — it’s a blessing. When you have a wife who has been a tower of strength and shown more courage than you dreamed existed — that’s the finest I know.

“So I close in saying that I might have been given a bad break, but I’ve got an awful lot to live for. Thank you.”

Lou Gehrig at Yankee Stadium, 4 July, 1939

The crowd stood and applauded for almost 2 minutes. Lou Gehrig was visibly shaken as he stepped away from the microphone, and wiped the tears away from his face with his handkerchief. Babe Ruth came over and hugged him as a band played “I Love You Truly” and the crowd chanted “We love you, Lou”. The New York Times account the following day called it “one of the most touching scenes ever witnessed on a ball field”, that made even hard-boiled reporters “swallow hard”.

In December 1939, Lou Gehrig was elected unanimously to the National Baseball Hall of Fame in a special election by the Baseball Writers Association, waiving the waiting period normally required after a ballplayer’s retirement. At age 36, he was the youngest player to be so honoured.

“Don’t think I am depressed or pessimistic about my condition at present,” Lou Gehrig wrote following his retirement from baseball. Struggling against his ever-worsening physical condition, he added, “I intend to hold on as long as possible and then if the inevitable comes, I will accept it philosophically and hope for the best. That’s all we can do.”

In October 1939, he accepted Mayor LaGuardia’s appointment to a 10 year term as a New York City Parole Commissioner and was sworn into office on 2 January, 1940. The Parole Commission commended the ex-ballplayer for his “firm belief in parole, properly administered”, stating that Lou Gehrig “indicated he accepted the parole post because it represented an opportunity for public service. Lou Gehrig had rejected other job offers – including lucrative speaking and guest appearance opportunities – worth far more financially than the $5,700 a year commissionership.” Lou Gehrig visited New York City’s correctional facilities, but insisted that they not be covered by news media. Lou Gehrig, as always, quietly and efficiently performed his duties. Lou Gehrig was often helped by his wife Eleanor, who would guide his hand when he had to sign official documents. About a month before his death, when Lou Gehrig reached the point where his deteriorating physical condition made it impossible for him to continue in the job, he quietly resigned.

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Dementia Series-Disabled Legend Marvin Owen

Marvin James Owen was born on 22 March, 1906 in Agnew, California, USA and died on 22 June, 1991 at the age of 85 in Mountain View, California, USA having suffered from Alzheimer’s disease.

Marvin was an American third baseman in Major League Baseball. Marvin played 9 seasons in the American League with the Detroit Tigers (1931; 1933-37), Chicago White Sox (1938-39), and Boston Red Sox (1940).

Marvin played college baseball for the Santa Clara Broncos. After he joined the Tigers in 1931, Owen played a full season in the minor leagues before rejoining the team in 1933.

The Detroit infield in the mid-1930s was one of the best-hitting combinations in MLB history. With Hank Greenberg at first, Charlie Gehringer at second, Billy Rogell at shortstop, and Owen at third, the 1934 Tigers infield collected 769 hits’ (214 by Gehringer, 201 by Greenberg, 179 by Owen and 175 by Rogell), 462 RBIs (139 by Greenberg, 127 by Gehringer, 100 by Rogell, and 96 by Owen), 179 doubles (63 by Greenberg, 50 by Gehringer, 34 by Owen and 32 by Rogell). 3 members of the 1934 Tigers infield (Gehringer, Owen and Rogell) played in all 154 games, and the fourth (Greenberg) played in 153. Led by the hard hitting infield, the Tigers won the American League in both 1934 and 1935.

In Game 7 of the 1934 World Series at Navin Field, Joe Medwick tripled in the 6th inning with the score 7-0. On the play, Marvin was knocked down by a hard slide at third and both players fought. The incident and subsequent fan reaction toward Medwick forced Commissioner Kenesaw Mountain Landis to remove Medwick from the game. Marvin batted just .069 (2-29) in the Series and would again bat a lowly .050 (1-20) in the 1935 World Series, in which the Tigers defeated the Chicago Cubs in 6 games. Marvin managed to set a post-season record of most consecutive plate appearances between hits 31.

In 1936, Marvin batted .295 with 105 RBI. Marvin was traded to the White Sox before the 1938 season and finished his playing career with the Red Sox in 1940. During his career, he batted .275 in 1,011 games with 1,040 hits and 31 home runs.

Marvin was also a good fielder, leading American League third baseman in putouts in 1934 (202) and 1936 (190). No Tiger third baseman since 1934 (not Pinky Higgins, George Kell, Don Wert, Aurelio Rodriguez, Travis Fryman or Brandon Inge) has had as many putouts as Owen’s 202 in 1934. Marvin also led AL third basemen in fielding percentage in 1937 (.970) and in double plays in 1936 (28). Marvin was involved in a career high 33 double plays at third base in 1934. Marvin’s career high in assists was 305 in 1938 with the White Sox.

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Dementia Series-Disabled Legend Joe Adcock

Joseph Wilbur “Billy Joe” Adcock was born on 30 October, 1927 and died on 3 May, 1999at the age of 71 in Coushatta. Joe was an American first baseman and right-handed batter in Major League Baseball, best known for his years with the powerful Milwaukee Braves teams of the 1950s, whose career included numerous home run feats. A sure-handed defensive player, he also retired with the third highest career fielding percentage by a first baseman (.994). Joseph’s nickname “Billy Joe” was modeled after Vanderbilt University basketball star “Billy Joe Adcock” and was popularized by Vin Scully.

Joseph Adcock was born in Coushatta, Louisiana. Joseph was signed by the Cincinnati Reds after a successful run at Louisiana State University, but Ted Kluszewski had firm hold of the team’s first base slot. Joseph Adcock played in left field from 1950 to 1952, but was unhappy and demanded a trade, which he received. Joseph’s first season with the Braves was capped by a mammoth home run into the center field bleachers at the Polo Grounds on 29 April, 1953, a feat that had never been done before and would only be accomplished twice more, by Hank Aaron and Lou Brock.

On 31 July, 1954, he accomplished the rare feat of homering four times in a single game, against the Brooklyn Dodgers at Ebbets Field, and set a new record for most total bases in a game (18) that stood until broken by Shawn Green in 2002.

Another notable home run was the blast that ended the epic duel between Lew Burdette and Harvey Haddix on 26 May, 1959, in which Haddix took a perfect game into the 12th inning. Joseph Adcock did not get credit for a home run, however, because Aaron – who was on first base – saw Felix Mantilla, the runner ahead of him, score the winning run and thought the hit had only been a double and walked back to the dugout, causing Adcock to be called out for passing him on the base paths.

Joseph Adcock was often overshadowed both by his own teammates Aaron and Eddie Mathews, and by the other slugging first basemen in the league, Kluszewski and Gil Hodges, but he did make one All-Star team (1960) and was regularly among the league leaders in home runs. In 1956, he finished second in the National League in home runs, runs batted in, and slugging average. After playing for the Cleveland Indians (1963) and Los Angeles/California Angels (1964-66), Joseph Adcock managed the Cleveland Indians for one year (1967) and managed 2 more years in the minor leagues before settling down at his 288-acre (1.2 km²) ranch in Coushatta to raise horses.

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