Today in History: Yankees' Lou Gehrig breaks record for consecutive games played
UNITED STATES - JANUARY 01: New York Yankees' rookie Lou Gehrig, straight off Columbia University campus. (Photo by NY Daily News Archive via Getty Images)
NEW YORK - 1926. Lou Gehrig, first baseman for the New York Yankees, works out at first base before a game at Yankee Stadium in 1926. (Photo by Mark Rucker/Transcendental Graphics, Getty Images)
NEW YORK - 1928. Lou Gehrig, first baseman for the New York Yankees, watches a high fly during a game at Yankee Stadium in 1928. (Photo by Mark Rucker/Transcendental Graphics, Getty Images)
ST. PETERSBURG, FLORIDA - MARCH, 1928. Lou Gehrig works out at first base for the New York Yankees at their spring training facility in St. Petersburg, Florida in March of 1928. (Photo by Mark Rucker/Transcendental Graphics, Getty Images)
Portrait of New York Yankees first baseman, Lou Gehrig (1903 - 1941), seated with three baseball bats over his shoulder, circa 1930s. (Photo by Pictorial Parade/Getty Images)
UNITED STATES - JANUARY 01: Lou Gehrig and Babe Ruth team up for final championship together. (Photo by NY Daily News Archive via Getty Images)
A portrait of Lou Gehrig, considered by many to be the greatest baseball player ever, New York, New York, circa 1932. (Photo by Underwood Archives/Getty Images)
ST. LOUIS, MO - AUGUST 17, 1933: New York Yankees first baseman Lou Gehrig poses with the trophy he was awarded by newspaperman Edger G. Brands in recognition of Gehrig playing in his 1,308th consecutive major league game on August 17, 1933 in St. Louis, Missouri. Gehrig broke a former record by former Yankees shortstop Everett Scott. (Photo by Sporting News via Getty Images)
circa 1935: Portrait of American baseball players Lou Gehrig (1903-1941) (L) and Joe DiMaggio (1914-1999), both of the New York Yankees, kneeling with their baseball bats in uniform. (Photo by New York Times Co./Getty Images)
CLEVELAND, OH - MAY 10, 1935: Lou Gehrig at bat Indians vs, Yankees, League Park. Gehrig homered in the first inning as the Yankees defeated the Indians 6-3. (Photo by Louis Van Oeyen/Western Reserve Historical Society/Getty Images)
New York Yankees first baseman Lou Gehrig as he looked when the camera caught him at an unusual angle during batting practice at St. Petersburg, Fla. on March 20, 1935. (AP Photo/Tom Sande)
circa 1936: Headshot of American baseball player Lou Gehrig (1903-1941) wearing his New York Yankees uniform. (Photo by New York Times Co./Getty Images)
Lou Gehrig, "the Iron Horse," and his wife, Eleanor, who were married in 1933, pose together before Game 1 of the World Series at the Polo Grounds, September 30, 1936. In his famous farewell speech on July 4, 1939, Lou said of Eleanor, "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." Eleanor later echoed his sentiment, saying, "I would not have traded two minutes of the joy and the grief with that man for two decades of anything with another." (AP Photo)
Yankee first baseman Lou Gehrig watches from the dugout May 2, 1939 as his teammates warm up for their game with the Tigers in Detroit. The Iron Horse told manager Joe McCarthy he was benching himself for the good of the team, bringing his 2,130 game streak to an end. The Briggs Stadium fans gave Gehrig a standing ovation when they learned he would not be in the lineup. The Yankees stormed to a 22-2 win. (AP Photo)
Lou Gehrig, left, the New York Yankeesâ âIron Manâ, and Dr. Robert Gilman, June 27, 1939 in Philadelphia as they went over a Mayo clinic report before Gehrig received an injection for the form of paralysis with which he is afflicted. (AP Photo)
UNITED STATES - AUGUST 20: New York Yankees' Lou Gehrig (Photo by NY Daily News Archive via Getty Images)
Mayor Fiorello LaGuardia, standing at right of the microphones, paid the respects of the City of New York to Lou Gehrig, left, as 60,000 fans jammed Yankee Stadium on July 4, 1939 to cheer the retiring "Iron Horse." The World Champions paid tribute to their great first baseman during their doubleheader with the Washington Senators. The two teams are shown in the infield, with the famous 1927 Yankees team in the foreground, in a row at right. Dignitaries and the band are in the background. (AP Photo)
FILE - In this July 4, 1939, file photo, New York Yankees' Lou Gehrig wipes away a tear while speaking during a tribute at Yankee Stadium in New York. The league will conduct special on-field ceremonies to commemorate the 75th anniversary of Gehrig's "Luckiest Man" speech and honor his legacy on July 4, 2014. Gehrig passed away on June 2, 1941 at the age of 37. (AP Photo/Murray Becker, File)
George Herman (Babe) Ruth (1895 - 1948) hugs former teammate Lou Gehrig (1903 - 1941), 1939. (Photo by Waite Hoyt Collection/Cincinnati Museum Center/Getty Images)
UNITED STATES - JULY 04: The Luckiest Man on the Face of the earth stands stoic in face of deadly disease that forces him into early retirement. Lou Gehrig, the man who became the Pride of the Yankees, delivers one of the most famous speeches of all time. Officially, it was Lou Gehrig Appreciation Day at Yankee Stadium, but the slugging first baseman weakened by amyotrophic lateral sclerosis would never play again. Yankees retired his number, 4. (Photo by NY Daily News Archive via Getty Images)
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If you ask any member of the current generation, "Iron Man," in baseball, refers to Cal Ripken Jr. But for decades before the Baltimore Oriole earned that crown, one man embodied the moniker more fully than anyone else.
On this day in 1933, Lou Gehrig became baseball's Iron Man, breaking the record for most consecutive games played with 1,308. Ripken broke the record in 1995, and will likely hold it for decades more, if not forever. It's an amazing feat, but Gehrig's story is so rich, it's worth telling now, even a decade after he was dethroned.
Gehrig's streak of 2,130 straight games played came to an end in 1939, and only at the hands of the disease that bears his name. Suffering from ALS, or Lou Gehrig's disease, the New York Yankee called it a career at 35, knowing he wasn't long for this world. Then came the famous "Luckiest Man" speech. Two years later, the baseball legend was dead at the age of 37.
Click through the gallery above to relive the icon's most memorable baseball moments, and be sure to check the video below for more discussion about that all-time great speech at Yankee Stadium.