It's Been 68 Years Since Lou Gehrig Passed Away

Harold FriendChief Writer IJune 2, 2009

NEW YORK - SEPTEMBER 21: A general view of monument park prior to the game between the New York Yankees and the Baltimore Orioles on September 21, 2008 at Yankee Stadium in the Bronx borough of New York City. This is the final game played at the 85 year old stadium.The Yankees will start play in 2009 at the new Yankee Stadium currently under construction. (Photo by Jim McIsaac/Getty Images)

The funeral service for Lou Gehrig was as simple and as modest as the man.

On a rainy day in New York, only about 100 relatives, friends, and associates were at Christ Church in Riverdale.

The Gehrig family requested that there would be no eulogy. None was necessary.

The ceremony lasted eight minutes.

Bill Dickey and Bill Terry

Bill Dickey, who roomed with Lou Gehrig, flew in from Detroit, where the Yankees had played the Tigers.

Bill told reporters, "Lou and I had an agreement that, whoever went first, the other would see him off."

New York Giants manager Bill Terry, a man who had the reputation of being unemotional, choked up as the coffin passed him and tried to unobtrusively brush away tears.

Mr. and Mrs. Ruth

Mr. and Mrs. Babe Ruth arrived at the Gehrig residence at one a.m. Babe expressed his deep regrets and sympathy.

He broke down when he viewed the coffin the next night.

Mrs Gehrig Acquiesced

The funeral was private, but the public had viewed the body the previous day.

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Original plans had called for no public viewing, but so many individuals clamored to pay their respects that Mrs. Gehrig acquiesced.

There was a line of people three blocks long, and it was estimated that 5,000 viewed the body.

Modesty, Courage, and Sincerity

Jean Horie, the executive secretary of the New York Youth Congress, expressed America's feelings, especially those of its youngsters.

"It was not so much the fact that he was a successful ball player, nor that he was famous, but it was rather that with all his prominence he maintained his modesty, courage, and sincerity."

As Long As He Wants to Play

Yankees' manager Joe McCarthy refused to take Lou out of the lineup despite his developing awareness of Lou's deteriorating health.

"Gehrig plays as long as he wants to play," McCarthy said.

He knew that once Gehrig realized he was hindering the Yankees, he would bench himself.

Frank Crosetti

Baseball men and politicians paid tribute to Lou Gehrig, but it was Frank Crosetti who expressed it best.

"Everybody loved Lou. You couldn't help it. He was in there with everything he had, every minute of the game...."

Nothing Spectacular

Lou Gehrig was never spectacular, although he produced spectacular feats.

When Edward Hermann was selected to play Gehrig in the television movie, "A Love Affair: The Eleanor and Lou Gehrig Story," the actor had difficulty.

"What made it so tough is I could find no 'key' to his character. There was no strangeness, nothing spectacular about him. As Eleanor Gehrig told me, he was just a square, honest guy."

Lou Gehrig was much more than a "square, honest guy."  

Fans can argue that other players had more talent or greater careers, but no one can claim that anyone associated with baseball had more integrity or epitomized dignity more than Lou Gehrig.

Lou Gehrig Website

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