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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Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS) Series-Disabled Legend Don Revie

Donald George ‘Don’ Revie, OBE, was born on 10 July 1927 in Middlesbrough and died on 26 May 1989, from motor neurone disease, in Edinburgh, Scotland, aged 61.

Don Revie was a football player for Leicester City, Hull City, Sunderland, Manchester City and Leeds United as a deep-lying centre forward. After managing Leeds United between 1961 to 1974 with great success, his reign becoming known as Leeds’ “Glory Years”, he managed England from 1974 to 1977.

Don Revie first signed as a footballer for Leicester City in 1944. From there he went on to play for Hull City in 1949 (transfer fee £20,000), Manchester City in 1951 (£25,000), Sunderland in 1956 (£22,000) and Leeds United in 1958 (£12,000). The combined transfer fees paid over his career were at the time (i.e. in 1958) a record in English football.

Don Revie won 6 caps for England, was Football Writers’ Association Footballer of the Year in 1955 and won an FA Cup winners medal with Manchester City in 1956. At Manchester City the playing tactic of using a deep-lying centre-forward (Don Revie’s position, evolved from the more traditional inside-right), and based on the style of the successful Hungarian national team, and in particular Nándor Hidegkuti, who invented the role, became known as the “Revie Plan”.

This tactic was of enormous significance in the development of football, moving permanently from the old 2-3-5 and WM tactics to 3-3-4, then 4-2-4 and 4-3-3 tactics.

Don Revie was made player-manager in March 1961 at Leeds. Although his tenure didn’t get off to a flying start, he won the Football League 2nd Division within 3 years as manager and once promoted took them to 2nd in the league and the FA Cup final in their 1st season in the top division. Don Revie developed the team that would by the early 1970s be the major force in English football. Don Revie was named English Manager of the Year in 1969, 1970, and 1972, and was awarded the OBE in 1970.

All in all Don Revie guided Leeds to 2 Football League 1st Division titles, 1 FA Cup, 1 League Cup, 2 Inter-Cities Fairs Cup titles, 1 Football League 2nd Division title and 1 Charity Shield. Don Revie also guided them to 3 more FA Cup Finals, 1 more Inter-Cities Fairs Cup Final and 1&1 Cup Winners’ Cup Final.

Don Revie was occasionally linked with other clubs during his tenure, most notably Everton in 1973, but his loyalty unwavered.

In July 1974 Don Revie was offered the job of England national football manager ahead of such luminaries as future Leeds boss Jimmy Adamson, but was unable to reproduce the success he had enjoyed at Leeds. England failed to qualify for Euro 1976 under his reign, and he was villified for lying about his wherebouts during qualification for the subsequent World Cup.

In 1977 he controversially quit the role to become coach to the United Arab Emirates. The FA suspended Don Revie from football for 10 years on a charge of bringing the game into disrepute, which Don Revie successfully overturned in court. After leaving the UAE coaching role in 1980 he took over management of Al Nasr, followed in 1984 by the Egyptian club Al Ahly of Cairo. Don Revie left within a year because his wife was ill at the time.

A controversial figure in his time, his team was criticised for its violent play and gamesmanship, most notably by Brian Clough, although it was widely recognised as among the finest of its day. Don Revie’s reputation suffered following his retirement due to the U.A.E. scandal and also because of highly controversial allegations that Don Revie had attempted to bribe opposition players and managers during his career – these allegations have been made by several senior players and coaches, such as Bob Stokoe, Jim Barron, Don Revie’s own goalkeeper Gary Sprake and more recently Frank McLintock. These claims have not been proven. However, in the years following his death, Don Revie’s reputation has at least partially recovered in spite of these scandals and he is now considered (by Leeds fans at least) as one the finest managers in English football history.

Don Revie continues to be worshipped by the Leeds supporters and beloved by his former team. The kop at Leeds United’s ground, Elland Road, is named after him. Don Revie was inducted into the English Football Hall of Fame in 2004 in recognition of his impact as a manager on the English league.

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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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Hearing Impairment Series-Disabled Legend Cliff Bastin

Clifford Sydney Bastin was born on 14 March, 1912 in Heavitree near Exeter and died on 4 December 1991 at the age of 79. A stand at St James Park, Exeter’s home ground, is named in his honour.

Cliff was an English football player.

Cliff Bastin started his career at Exeter City, making his debut for the club in 1928, at the age of 16. Despite only playing 17 games and scoring 6 goals in his time at Exeter, he was spotted by Arsenal manager Herbert Chapman in a match against Watford; Herbert Chapman was attending to keep tabs on a Watford player, but the 17-year-old Cliff Bastin’s ability was so evident that Herbert Chapman decided to sign him at the end of the 1928-29 season.

Cliff Bastin played the rest of his career at Arsenal, and formed an integral part of the side that dominated English football in the 1930s. Cliff Bastin scored 178 goals in 395 games, which made him Arsenal’s all-time top goalscorer from 1939 until 1997, when his total was surpassed by Ian Wright. In 2005 Thierry Henry passed both Cliff Bastin and Ian Wright’s totals, thus meaning Cliff Bastin is currently (as of December 2006) Arsenal’s third-top goalscorer of all time. Cliff Bastin’s record of 150 league goals for Arsenal stood for slightly longer, until it was equalled by Thierry Henry on 14 January, 2006 and surpassed on 1 February.

Cliff Bastin made his debut against Everton on 5 October, 1929 and was immediately a first team regular, making 21 appearances that season. Cliff Bastin went on to be a near ever-present in the side over the next decade, playing over 35 matches for every season up to and including 1937-38. Cliff Bastin’s youth earned him the nickname “Boy Bastin”, but despite his age Cliff Bastin’s play was characterised by a remarkable coolness, and deadly precision in front of goal; he also became Arsenal’s regular penalty taker. Cliff Bastin’s scoring feats are all the more remarkable considering he played on the left wing rather than as centre forward; at the time Arsenal’s strategy depended heavily on their wingers cutting into the penalty box, and the supply of passes from Alex James was the source of many of his goals.

With Arsenal, Cliff Bastin won the FA Cup twice, in 1929-30 and 1935-36, and the First Division title 5 times, in 1930-31, 1932-33, 1933-34, 1934-35 and 1937-38; by the age of 19 he had won a League title, FA Cup and been capped for England, making him the youngest player ever to do all 3. Cliff Bastin also finished as Arsenal top scorer twice (1932-33 and 1933-34, with 33 and 15 respectively) though after centre-forward Ted Drake arrived in March 1934, Cliff Bastin was no longer Arsenal’s number 1 target man.

With Ted Drake scoring the lion’s share of the goals and Alex James increasingly unavailable due to injury and age, Cliff Bastin was moved to inside-forward to replace Alex James for much of the 1935-36 season, which saw Arsenal drop to 6th; Cliff Bastin still scored 17 goals, including 6 in Arsenal’s run to the 1936 FA Cup Final, which they won 1-0. After a stint at right half to cover for Jack Crayston, Cliff Bastin was eventually restored to the left wing and scored 17 goals in the 1937-38 title-winning season. An injury to his right leg ruled him out of much of the 1938-39 season, the last one played before the outbreak of World War II.

During his career Cliff Bastin also played for England between 1931 and 1938, winning 21 caps and scoring 12 goals his debut coming against Wales at Anfield on 18 November, 1931, which England won 3-1. Highlights of his England career included the famous “Battle of Highbury”, where England defeated 1934 World Cup winners Italy 3-2, and a notorious match against Germany in Berlin in 1938, when the England team was ordered to give the Nazi salute before the match.

The Second World War intervened when Bastin was 27, thus cutting short what should have been the peak of his career. Cliff Bastin was excused military service he failed the army hearing test owing to his increasing deafness. Thus, during the war, he served as an ARP Warden, being stationed on top of Highbury stadium with Tom Whittaker. Cliff Bastin also played matches in the war-time league to boost civilian morale. In 1941, Fascist Italy’s propaganda broadcast on Rome Radio, contained a bizarre claim that Cliff Bastin had been captured in the Battle of Crete, and was being detained in Italy; the Italians were seemingly unaware that Cliff Bastin was deaf and had been excused service.

Cliff Bastin’s injured leg had hampered his performances in wartime matches, and would ultimately curtail his career. After the war was over, Cliff Bastin, by now in his thirties, would only play 7 more times (failing to score in any of them) before retiring in January 1947. After retirement, Cliff Bastin returned to his native Exeter and ran a pub.

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Hearing Impairment Series-Disabled Legend Miha Zupan

Miha Zupan was born on 13 September 1982 in Kranj, SR Slovenia, Yugoslavia. Miha is a Slovenian basketball player. Despite being deaf since birth, he plays among hearing players at the highest level in Europe. A 2.04 m (6 ft 8½ in) power forward who can also play center when needed, he currently plays for his country’s best-known club, regular Euroleague participant Union Olimpija.

Miha spent most of his childhood in a special school for the deaf, eventually learning to speak. An unspecified type of hearing aid would later give him enough hearing to understand speech. Miha did not learn to play basketball until age 14, instead playing football and volleyball. After his first basketball coach spotted him in a schoolyard, he took to the game quickly, soon joining Slovenia’s national basketball team for the deaf, which twice made the finals of the European championships with Miha as its star. At age 17, he signed his first contract with a regular professional team, KD Slovan of Ljubljana. During his teenage years, he grew 20 cm (8 inches) in an 18-month period, leading to knee problems that sidelined him for several months early in his pro career.

At Slovan, he developed into a promising big man, soon making the (regular) Slovenia junior and under-20 national teams. Miha played in the Slovenian League All-Star Game in 2004 and 2006, earning MVP honors in the 2004 game and also winning the slam dunk contest associated with the 2004 game. Miha continued to play for the Slovenia national deaf team, leading them to the 2004 European championship.

In the 2005-06 season with Slovan, he averaged 11.5 points and 4.4 rebounds in Slovenian League play. Miha’s statistics in the Adriatic League were arguably more impressive, considering that he played only 23 minutes per game in that competition; he averaged 13.2 points and 3.9 rebounds and also shot 47.3% from three-point range.

Miha signed with Union Olimpija, also of Ljubljana, in the 2006 offseason, fulfilling what he called one of his lifelong dreams. Miha also barely missed out on a trip to the 2006 FIBA World Championship, becoming the last player cut from the Slovenia squad. Miha’s chance to play for Union Olimpija in the Euroleague was on hold for several months because his transfer became the subject of litigation between them and Slovan. Miha had, apparently inadvertently, failed to revoke his contract with Slovan before signing with Union Olimpija. Union Olimpija had registered him at the start of the 2006-07 season, and he played 6 fixtures in the Adriatic League before Slovan contested the registration. Union Olimpija won the first round of the legal battle in August 2006, but on 23 October, an appellate court set aside the decision and ordered a new trial. Union Olimpija announced that it would appeal the ruling. This ruling also, for the time being, prevented him from becoming the first deaf player ever to play in the Euroleague, as he had been scheduled to play in Union Olimpija’s first game of Euroleague regular-season play against Croatian side Cibona on 26 October 2006.

The legal battle raged until late February 2007, when Union Olimpija and Slovan reached a settlement. After Union Olimpija paid an undisclosed fee to Slovan, they finally registered him officially on 1 March. The settlement proved timely for Union Olimpija, as they had seen 6 players leave the team during the season, and had 2 other players out with injury. While Miha was unable to play during the 2006-07 Euroleague, as Union Olimpija had been eliminated by the time of the settlement, he arrived in time for the late rounds of the Adriatic League and for the 2nd stage of the Slovenian domestic league.

On 24 October 2007, Miha finally became the first deaf player in the Euroleague, appearing for Union Olimpija in their 80-52 loss at Montepaschi Siena in the opening week of regular season play in the 2007-08 Euroleague. Miha had 5 points, 3 rebounds, and 2 assists in slightly over 13 minutes of action off the bench.

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Dementia Series-Disabled Legend Tom Fears

Thomas Jesse Fears was born on 3 December, 1923 in Guadalajara, Mexico and died on 4 January, 2000 after spending a 6 year long battle with Alzheimer’s disease.

Tom was the son of an American mining engineer who had married a Mexican woman, and moved with his family to Los Angeles at the age of 6. There, he began to display his ample work ethic by unloading flowers for 25 cents an hour, and later serving as an usher at football games for double that amount.

Tom was an American football wide receiver for the Los Angeles Rams in the National Football League, playing 9 seasons from 1948 to 1956.

Tom first played football at Los Angeles’ Manual Arts High School, then advanced to compete for Santa Clara University. Tom spent 1 year at the latter school before he was drafted for World War II and spent the next 3 years in military service. After his father became a Japanese prisoner of war, Tom sought to become a fighter pilot to fight Japan. Tom became a pilot, but was instead shipped to Colorado Springs to play football for a service team.

Upon his release, he had been drafted by the Rams in 1945, but remained in school and transferred to UCLA, winning All-American following each of his 2 seasons at the school. Tom’s senior campaign nearly ended in abrupt fashion in 1947, when he and some Bruin teammates were investigated for posing in local advertisements for a Los Angeles clothing store. When it was determined that Tom and the other players worked for the store, and were not identified as athletes, the matter was dropped.

The job had been one of many provided by school boosters, and included a brief bit as a pilot in the Humphrey Bogart film, “Action in the North Atlantic.” The largesse by such people led Tom to joke that his $6,000 first-year contract and $500 bonus from the Rams meant that he was taking a pay cut.

Tom was the first player in NFL History to line up on the line of scrimmage, away from the tackle, thus making him the first Wide Receiver in NFL History. Selected as a defensive back by the Rams, Tom quickly made his mark as a wide receiver in 1948, while also displaying his versatility by playing on defense and at tight end. During his first 3 seasons at the professional level, he led all NFL receivers in catches, and broke the league’s single-season record with 77 catches in 1949.

The record would be short-lived as he increased that mark to 84 during the 1950 NFL season, including a then-record 18 catches in one game against the Green Bay Packers on 12 November. Tom also helped the team advance to the NFL title game with a trio of touchdown receptions in the divisional playoff against the Chicago Bears, winning All-Pro accolades for the second consecutive year.

During the ensuing offseason, Tom became embroiled in a contract dispute with the team for the second straight year. The year before, he hinted at leaving the team to work for General Motors Corporation, then announced on 13 March, 1951 that he was retiring to work for a local liquor distributor. Neither threat materialized, and despite offers from four Canadian Football League teams, Tom signed for $13,000.

That season, Tom played in only 7 games, but helped lead the Rams to their 3rd straight championship game appearance. After 2 disappointments, the franchise captured its 1st NFL title since moving to the West Coast, with Tom an integral part of the title game victory when he caught the winning score. Tom’s 73-yard touchdown reception midway through the 4th quarter broke a 17-17 deadlock with the Cleveland Browns.

After bouncing back in 1952 with 48 receptions for 600 yards and 6 scores, the beginning of the end of his career began after he fractured 2 vertabrae in a 18 October, 1953 game against the Detroit Lions. Limited to just 23 receptions that year, he would average 40 catches the next 2 years, but after a preseason injury in 1956, he hauled in only 5 passes and retired on 6 November. For the remainder of that campaign, he served as an assistant coach, finishing his playing days with 400 catches for 5,397 yards and 38 touchdowns.

Tom was out of the game for the next 2 years, but returned briefly as an assistant in the 1st year of Vince Lombardi’s reign with the Packers. Business conflicts back in California caused him to leave the position at midseason, but Tom resumed his coaching career the following year with the Rams under former teammate Bob Waterfield. After 2 seasons in that role, Tom returned to Green Bay for a 4 year stint as an assistant, where he was part of championship teams in 1962 and 1965.

Tom applied for the head coaching job with the St. Louis Cardinals (football) after the 1965 NFL season, but after not being chosen, he joined fellow Packer assistant Norb Hecker, who had been named head coach of the expansion Atlanta Falcons. In the first game of the 1966 regular season, Tom caused controversy when he accused Rams coach George Allen of attempting to garner inside information on the team from a player that had been cut, charges that were never proven.

After that 2-12 first season in Atlanta, Tom became a head coach for the first time when he was hired by the expansion New Orleans Saints on 27 January, 1967. Despite the promise of the team scoring on the first-ever kickoff return in franchise history, Tom’s nearly 4 years at the helm of what became a perennial losing franchise were an exercise in frustration.

In 1970, Tom was recognized for his professional playing career when he was elected to the Pro Football Hall of Fame. That March, rumors of Tom replacing the departed Don Shula with the Baltimore Colts surfaced, but Don McCafferty was hired by the Maryland team in early April. Issues between Tom and Saints owner John Mecom, Jr., primarily Tom seeking the additional role of general manager, fueled such speculation. On 20 April, the matter ended when he was given control over all player personnel matters.

Tom’s tenure in his new dual roles, however, would be short, when the team ended the first half of the 1970 NFL season with a 1-5-1 mark, resulting in his dismissal on 3 November after compiling an overall mark of 13-34-2. Tom resurfaced a few months later, serving as offensive coordinator of the Philadelphia Eagles, but when head coach Ed Khayat was fired at the end of the 1972 NFL season, Tom was out of work again.

After spending 1973 off the gridiron, Tom was named head coach of the fledgling World Football League’s Southern California Sun on 14 January, 1974. The fragile financial condition of the entire league resulted in Tom leading the team for less than 2 years before the WFL folded in October 1975.

Tom’s disappointment was soothed somewhat when he was named to the College Football Hall of Fame in 1976, the same year he was named president of the All-Sports Council of Southern California, which helped amateur sports in the area. 1 year later, he returned to coaching as an assistant at San Bernardino Junior College.

During this period, he was also working as a technical adviser for movies with a football connection, and in 1979, began a football scouting service. The 2 roles came together in controversial fashion when Tom began working on the production of “North Dallas Forty,” a film that took a look at the sordid side of the professional game.

Tom had 3 clients: the Packers, Houston Oilers and Pittsburgh Steelers, but after the movie was released, Tom saw all 3 teams drop his services. Claiming that the NFL had blacklisted him, Tom spoke with league commissioner Pete Rozelle (who had worked for the Rams during Toms’ playing days), but never again found work in the league.

Remaining on the fringes of the sport, Tom in 1980 worked as a coach for the Chapman College club football team, then became a part-owner of the Orange Empire Outlaws of the California Football League the following year. In 1982, he was hired as player personnel director of the new United States Football League’s Los Angeles Express. Bolstered by huge spending from team owner William Daniels, the team reached the conference championship game, but saw financial troubles doom not only the team, but the league as well.

Tom’s final position in football came in 1990, when he was named head coach of the Milan franchise in the fledgling International League of American Football.

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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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