A little more than 41 years ago, the New York Yankees announced the sudden retirement of one of the most determined and accomplished players in big league history. They also declared July 4, 1939 "Lou Gehrig Appreciation Day."
The Yankee first baseman nicknamed "The Iron Horse" because of his incredible 2,130 game streak was stepping away from the game in which he excelled due to illness. Just weeks earlier, Gehrig was diagnosed with ALS, a particularly aggressive and fatal neurological disease.
That Independence Day, Gehrig indelibly touched the hearts of 62,000 fans, teammates, and coaches in Yankee Stadium by famously proclaiming himself "the luckiest man on the face of the earth." Video and accounts of the ceremony and Gehrig's address continue to touch baseball and non-baseball fans alike.
The slugger had a brilliant career that has been recognized by being voted into the Baseball Hall of Fame and the greatest first baseman on Major League Baseball's All-Century Team. And, importantly, his long-time manager Joe McCarthy described Gehrig as "the finest example of a ballplayer, sportsman, and citizen that baseball has ever known."
Although Gehrig had played 17 years—his career and life were cut far too short. On June 2, 1941, Gehrig passed away.
In honor of this great player, we recognize 10 baseball stars who also had their careers cut short due to injury, illness or death.