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Click here for

Frequently Asked Questions About Gehrig

Below are the most interesting questions MoreGehrig readers have sent my way.

Newest question listed first:
 
 
Gehrig's farewell speech is so brilliant. I'm just wondering if we know whether or not he wrote it, or if he had any help.
-Joe


According to his widow, Gehrig did write out a little speech the night before - by himself - but he never rehearsed it because it was a simple speech and it was very painful for him to recite.  When he actually delivered the speech, he did so without
notes of any kind.  And though no full audio copy of his actual speech exists, in the snippets that were recorded, one can hear that his syntax was a little jumbled - a symptom of "winging it."


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I came across your site today and really enjoyed it. I am the director of Baseball Tonight on ESPN and a huge baseball fan and we named our youngest son Gehrig (10), after the great Lou Gehrig and our oldest son we named Aaron (13) after the home run king Hank Aaron. I know Curt Schilling has a son named Gehrig and was wondering if you knew of others?
-Mark

I do know of at least one other man who named his son after Gehrig, but he's not a celebrity.  He's actually a MoreGehrig reader named Lonnie, and he named his son after Lou, and his grandson has the name Gehrig.  Three generations of Gehrig fans!  Lonnie has contributed to the Personal Gehrig Stories section, and his story is worth a read.

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Is (are) the home Lou Gehrig lived and died in still standing? Do you have a photo of the house and was any photos ever taken there when Lou was still alive. - Randall East

Randall-
The only house that Gehrig lived in that I know for sure still stands is the one he bought on 9 Meadow Lane in New Rochelle, NY. Jonathan Eig describes said house in his Gehrig biography. Gehrig also had houses in Riverdale and Larchmont. Whether those two houses are still there, I could not guess.

Pictures? Well, I haven’t seen any of Gehrig’s house. I do know of a couple of pictures taken of him and Eleanor in their house, but you don’t really see much of the house.

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Hello. In the movie Pride of the Yankees, it showed Lou's wife keeping a scrapbook of all his accomplishments. Did she really do this, if so where is the book now? Thanks. Kim White

Yes, as a matter of fact, there is a real scrapbook. The one in the movie is the exact replica of the scrapbook Eleanor actually kept. Technically, the scrapbook was started by Lou's mother, who collected hundreds of newspaper clippings from the time Lou was a boy and was first mentioned in the papers. She kept the clippings in a drawer. When Eleanor found the clippings, she started assembling them into a scrapbook. When Lou fell ill, Eleanor kept a "secret" scrapbook (she didn't let Lou know about it) filled with articles on his disease and post-Yankees career. She didn't want him to know about it because she felt it would embarrass him. Both scrapbooks were donated to the Hall of Fame by Eleanor herself. The big scrapbook imitated in the movie is currently with the Hall's traveling exhibit called Baseball as America. The smaller scrapbook is on file at the Hall and, through special arrangement, can be viewed by a fan.

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Hi. I'm doing a project on Lou Gehrig and I could only find his baseball statistics, until I found your website. But my project has to be pictures only so I was wondering, where did you find your pictures of Lou Gehrig's childhood? If you could help me, I would appreciate it.Thanks, Nancy

Richard Bak's Lou Gehrig: An American Classic (available in Shop MoreGehrig) is the best printed source for Lou Gehrig pictures. It has a TON of pictures of Lou from all stages of his life. A good online source is Corbis.

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Hello Kaden.  A few years ago I saw a Lou Gehrig Cooperstown cap with the signature of Lou on the back. Do you have any idea where I can purchase on of those caps? Thanks, Kim

The best place to start is the Hall of Fame Museum's gift shop. They may remember what you're describing. Also, if you're ever in the Cooperstown area, the Seventh Inning souvenir shop is the best by far.

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Hi Kaden. I just recieved a photo of Lou in a non pinstriped yankees jersey that is signed Lou Gehrig in blue ink. It looks like a print to me. Any knowledge of this?? Glenn

Since I can't see the picture myself, I couldn't tell you. The best way to find out is to take the picture to an appraiser and have him/her evaluate it.

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My 9 yr old son picked out Lou Gehrig as a hero for a book report project. However, one of the questions he must answer is re: Religion. From your extensive, informative (and very well done) website, I surmise Mr. Gehrig grew up in a Lutheran home. I also read your articles on "Gehrig the Drunk" and "Defiance of Good." Also, his life example shows evidence of good morales, respect and love. However, is there any other information about Mr. Gehrig and his relationship with God/his Christian faith?

Unfortunately there is no research available on Lou's personal religious beliefs. It's known that his parents claimed Lutheranism as their birth religion, but there is no records to show if Lou ever went through the rite of Confirmation that all Lutheran youths go through to become adult members of the church. There is a picture of him as a baby in what appears to be a baptismal gown. That's as close as I got to finding out if he was baptized or not. When he married, the ceremony was in his living room, and he married a Catholic. After he died, his body was laid in state at an Episcopal church.

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I hoped you might know how Pipp earned the nickname "Pipp the Pickler" (wondered if it had anything to do with alcohol/drinking?) Thanks for any information if time allows. In appreciation, Ray Istorico

Pipp, that grand ol' fella who helped Gehrig out so much in learning how to play first base, got his nickname because of his knack of getting out of a "pickle" (a tough situation). More specifically, he had an incredible ability to place-hit.

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Kaden,
Could you please comment/describe what Mrs. Gehrig did after Lou died? Did she need to work? Did she approve of Teresa Wright's portrayal of her in "Pride of the Yankees"?  Pat

Hi, Pat!  First off, thanks for adding your locale to the MoreGehrig GuestMap. Now to your questions. After her husband died, Eleanor survived financially on the $171,251 estate Gehrig left her. As a clinical expert on ALS, she also worked with ALS awareness organizations, which she did more out of concern than for money. She very much approved of Teresa Wright's performance in "Pride of the Yankees," in fact she occasionally visited with Wright on the set of the movie and once joked, "I'm no Teresa Wright, that's for sure!" Incidentally, the first reel of "Pride" was sent to Eleanor for her review and she was said to have considered the movie a lovely tribute to her husband.

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I just saw this movie [Pride of the Yankees] today.  I know that Hollywood liked to sugarcoatbiographical movies, so I think I know the answer to my question, but I want confirmation.
My question is about the two scenes with young Billy.  Was there really a
Billy? Did he really hit two home runs for him?  Did Billy really approach
him on Lou Gehrig Day?
Thanks for your help.
Kristy Hromas
 
Hello, Kristy-
Based on the many Lou Gehrig biographies (in print form), there is no evidence that Billy was a real person in Gehrig's life.  Your intuition is correct, the presence of Billy is a coating of sugar.
It seems the screenwriters needed a character to accentuate Gehrig's unselfish nature.  Billy also served as a way to measure Gehrig's decline from in-control superhero (when Gehrig delivers on his promise of homeruns) to confused and conflicted victim of disease (when Gehrig meets him at the stadium).
It is true, however, that Gehrig hit multiple homeruns in a single game, even out-homering the Babe.
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Hi Kaden! For a school report i have to research and report on Lou's struggle with ANS and why the disease was named after him. Why was the disease named after him and is there anything interesting i could use to contribute to my report on Lou Gehrig's disease??
Karen
ALS (amytrophic lateral sclerosis) was nicknamed after Gehrig for a couple of reasons.  First and foremost because he was the first one to publically battle the disease.  What I mean by that is before Gehrig's diagnosis, ALS victims usually suffered in private.  People did not understand the disease, and what they didn't understand they shunned.  Many ALS victims were locked in attics or hidden from the public; they were considered the "shame" of the family.  When Gehrig's doctor released his diagnosis to the public, people had sympathy for the fallen hero and wanted to learn more about ALS.
The second reason is that "amyotrophic lateral sclerosis" is a bit cumbersome to pronounce let alone remember.  So, since people began to associate ALS with Gehrig, the nickname "Lou Gehrig's Disease" caught on and stuck.
Something interesting about ALS?  The most bizarre thing I can think of is that the disease immobilizes its victims but leaves their brains unscathed.  In Gehrig's case, he could barely move or talk, but he was still completely conscious.  How freaky is that?!  His battle with ALS lasted about 3 years (1939ish-1941).  By the end he was bound to his bed and fell into a coma the last day of his life.  In his time, ALS research amounted to very little, so the life expectancy back then was 2-5 years after diagnosis.  Today, ALS victims can live much longer.  Gehrig's main form of treatment was daily doses of Vitimin E.  Again, today, the treatments are much different. 
If you're looking for a truly interesting ALS story (besides Gehrig's, of course), look up Stephen Hawking.  He is a physicist/professor who has found amazing ways to live with advanced ALS.  Plus he's a quirky fellow, so you can't lose.
Good luck with your report!
 
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WHAT WAS GEHRIG'S HIGHEST SALARY HE WAS PAID WHEN HE PLAYED?
SHARKKIE
 
Hello!
The highest salary Gehrig ever played for was $39,000 in 1938. 
That may not seem like a whole lot, but consider this:
(1) he played during the onset and aftermath of the Great Depression;
$39,000 went a long, long way in 1938.
(2) he was not picky, unlike other Yankees (DiMaggio, Ruth).
(3) he was notoriously frugal.
 
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I recently bought a memorial print issued by the Standard School Broadcast, showing Lou wearing a suit later in his life as he has gray hair. I can't find anything as to why they would issue such a print. As far as I know Lou wasn't affiliated with any schools or in the field of broadcasting.
I know he worked for Mayor LaGuardia for a short time after he retired, but I have never heard of him doing anything else. Do you happen to know anything about this?  The print is dated 1903-1941 just under his name, which is why I think it was issued as a memorial.
thanks,
Bill Hunter
P.S. Have you or will you be, publishing a book of your research on
Gehrig?
 
Hello, Mr. Hunter,

Pardon the time it took me to reply; I was trying to dig something extraordinary up to answer your question.  I didn't get very far, however. I know very, very little of the memorial print of which you speak.  The only things I can guess are that Gehrig may have been a part of the Standard School Broadcast show at some point (he did do radio sketches, ads, etc.) and that the Standard School took its que from many other organizations and put out a "memorial" to Lou Gehrig.  After all, the SSB was for kids, and Gehrig was a hero to many of those kids.  Gehrig's job from LaGuardia involved helping troubled kids; perhaps the SSB honored him for that as well as his accomplishments on the field.
In any case, that's a rare find you have there.  Keep it safe.
Now on to your other question.  I do have hopes of publishing (in book form) my writing about Lou Gehrig.  There is definitely a market for such a book!  Just have to actually write up a proposal and start to solicit publishers.
 
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Hi Kaden,  Do you know the name of Lou Gehrig's friend that developed the e-tran communication board?  This was developed when Lou could no longer talk to his friend.  Thanks for the help
Beth
 
Hello, Beth. Well, uh, I couldn't find anything about an ETRAN communication board in any of my Gehrig-info sources, so I guess I fail to live
up to the know-it-all status I thought I was nearing. [For those who don't know, ETRAN communication boards are a primitive form of communication used by patients of dibilating illness, such as ALS, that leave them unable to speak or move their limbs.  The board is made of clear plexiglass and has letters/numbers/symbols.  The patient gazes at a particular letter, etc., and the person(s) conversing with the patient follows his/her gaze.  A very time-consuming conversation, no doubt.]
What I did find (on the 'net) was this:

ETRAN boards - named for the 5 most often used letters of the English
alphabet - were engineered by Jack Eichler for the benefit of his friend Hugh Neale, who, much like Gehrig in his final days, was unable to move or speak.  I could not find a connection between Eichler and Gehrig though.
That's all I got.  If you have a source linking Gehrig with ETRAN boards, please send it my way; you have capture my intrigue.
 
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Can you please tell me exactly what year Lou Gehrig was awarded the "Outstanding Athlete of the year" at Columbia College. This was the annual "Block C" award night. He was temporarily suspended as a college player, but soon was reinstated....Please advise or point me towards someone who would know. Finally, what year did Eleanor Twichell die...??
FK Eitler
 
Hello!
As you mention, Gehrig was suspended from college play for a while - his entire freshman year.  As a sophomore, he did play both football and baseball for the Columbia University Lions during the 1922-23 academic year. Seeing as how he signed with the Yankees in the summer of 1923 and consequently dropped out of college, I deduce that he won the Outstanding Athlete of the Year award in 1923.
As far as his wife, Eleanor, she passed away in 1984 (the year I started
kindergarten...but that's neither here nor there).
 
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Why was July 4th, 1939, picked as the tribute day?  Was it because he was jersey #4?
Russ
 
Hi, Russ.  No, that was just a coincidence, syrup on the pancake (but good eye!).  Here's how the preparation of Lou Gehrig Appreciation Day played out:
On June 19, 1939, Gehrig's diagnosis with ALS was made public.  Soon afterwards, a sports columnist named Bill Corum had a phone conversation with his friend Bill Hirsch.  In that conversation, Hirsch contested that there should be a farewell ceremony for Gehrig.  Corum agreed and wrote so in his column.  The idea was picked up by other writers and their respective papers.  The idea landed in the lap of Ed Barrow, Yankees GM.  Orginially it was suggested that the farewell ceremony take place during the All-Star Game, but Barrow insisted that Gehrig share the spotlight with no other "all-star."
So, in quick response to the wildfire public we-want-Gehrig sentiment, Barrow set the goodbye party to be held during the next convenient home game.  And that turned out to be a doubleheader on July 4, 1939.
 
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what was his favorite foods?
sunshineUcla

He was a huge fan of fruit and natural fruit juices.  Of course, being such a big boy, he ate just about anything put in front of him, and he was partial to Mom's cooking, which was almost entirely authentic German cuisine.

There was/is a rumor that he loved pickeled eels, a German delicacy.  Word had it that he got his hitting power from eating his mom's eels.  The truth is he ate them a lot as a child because Mom made so many of them, but they were far from his favorite food, no matter what the kiddie Gehrig biographies tell you.  He once told his wife to keep the "damned things" off their table.

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Hey! I am doing a report for English class on my all-time favorite baseball player, Lou Gherig, meaning I need the answer to this by tomorrow evening. I was wondering what Lou Gherig's early career influences were? Thanks!
-Amanda
 
Whaddup, Amanda.
Early influences?  Rich question.
As far as players he had a lot of respect for the Babe, who was heading into his prime when Gehrig was a rookie, and Honus Wagner was said to be his hero (the German heritage thing played a big part in whom Gehrig chose as his hero).  Perhaps one of the biggest influences, in my opinion, was Wally Pipp, the Yankee first baseman whom Gehrig would eventually replace.  Pipp went out of his way to ensure Gehrig developed into a big-league sacker.  The two worked together tirelessly at first base.  Pipp's guidence and lack of conceit are what truly molded Gehrig into an all-around high-caliber player.
The authority figures in Gehrig's life also held strong influences over his early career- Miller Huggins, the Yankee manager; Pat O'Connor, the Hartford manager (during Gehrig's minor league days); and of course Mom and Pop Gehrig, whose mounting bills were the deciding factor in Gehrig signing a big league contract.  Gehrig worked his rear off in effort not to disappoint any of these people.  As he did all of his life, Gehrig never worked for his own benefit but for the benefit of the team, coaches, his parents, etc.
 
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How tall was Lou Gehrig?
-Monte Griffin
 
Hello Monte,
When he joined the Yankees in 1923, he was 20 years old and stood 6 feet 1 inch.  Since men statistically don't stop growing until around age 25, I would guesstimate he was around 6'3" in the prime of his career (early '30s).  He was a big boy!
Now, once ALS started dwindling his ripped torso, he probably shrunk a bit, but I don't think anyone was leaning over his bed with a measuring tape to find out.
 
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After Lou's last game with the Yankees in June 1939, was he considered on the disabled list or did the Yankees do the honorable thing and carry their captain and fallen star on their regular roster for the remainder of the 1939 season?
-Curious Gehrig Fan
 
Poor Gehrig. He once said he could never watch the Yankees play baseball, instead he wanted to go far up into the mountains to fish on game days. But watching the Yankees is exactly what he did for the remainder of the 1939 season-- from the dugout, in a Yankee uniform, still reigning as Captain.
If a player is on the disabled list, there is an implication that he will one day play again. Sad as it was to admit, it was clear Gehrig would never play again, and no one with a slather of respect would openly call the prideful Iron Horse "disabled."
His active duty ended with an exhibition game in Kansas City on June 12, 1939. He was honored on July 4, 1939, when he delivered his farewell address. But every day he came to the stadium, labored into his uniform, and performed his duty as Captain of taking the lineup card to the home plate umpire before each game. He was chosen, for the seventh time, to represent American League first basemen at the All-Star Game (honorary spot, of course; he did not play), and his teammates cut him a share of the 1939 World Series-win loot.
He was a ballplayer 'til the end, as simple-- as Gehrig-- as that.

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In looking at Gehrig's games played statistics, there are a few seasons when he was credited with more than the 154 game schedule of the era.  How can he have played in 156 or 157 games in a season?
-Jim
 
Hi, Jim
If you visit the following Web page: http://baseball-almanac.com/teams/yank.shtml, you will find an exact schedule of the Yankees for every year in which Gehrig played. Pay particular attention to only those years in which he played a full season (1926-1938).
Though 154 games was the common mark/goal, it was not a dead-on accurate reflection of how many games teams played per year.  There were 7 seasons in which the Yankees (and Gehrig) played more than 154, but never more than 157. There were 2 seasons in which they played less than 154 (1933- 152 games; 1935- 149 games). In fact, in the 17-year entirety of Gehrig's career, there were only 4 seasons in which he played exactly 154 games per season.  Baseball is all about averages.
Hope this furthers your undestanding.
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Did Lou and Babe really hate each other?  What really was the cause of the "feud" between them? - Judith

Well, Judith, "hate" is such a strong word. Gehrig only hated one person-- Giants manager John McGraw (he was a mean ol' fart who wouldn't even give Gehrig a chance to swing at a ball in tryouts, the biggest mistake he ever made).
Gehrig had respect for Ruth, and that's about where it ended. Their companionship was that of cooperating co-workers rather than buddies. Ruth did indulge in Gehrig's mother's cooking and gave her a little dog as a present, while Ruth's youngest daughter, Dorothy, spent many hours at the Gehrigs' house (and she developed a crush on Gehrig). Regardless, Ruth was never the one Gehrig spilled his secrets to.
"Feud" is also a kind of inapporpriate word, even though it's used repeatedly by historians and Gehrig biographers. The two men never actually got in a fight. Here's what happened:
While on a cruise ship together with their wives, Gehrig lost track of Eleanor (his wife). After frantic searching, he finally found her in the Ruths' cabin. Though nothing happened between her and Ruth, Gehrig was furious, understandably so seeing as how Ruth was a known playboy. As if that wasn't enough, Ruth later disrespected Gehrig's mother, and we all know that was a cardinal sin in Gehrig's eyes. Ruth's wife had been chidded by Mom Gehrig over what she perceived to be the neglect of Dorothy. When the Babe found out about Mom's lecture, he told Gehrig, in so many naughty words, to make sure Mom kept to her own affairs.
The limelight colors things in unrealistic ways. So, next time you see a picture of Gehrig and Ruth together, remember it's more publicity than reality.

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Babe Ruth has a museum in his honor in Baltimore, Ted Williams has one in Fla. Joe Dimaggio has a hosp. named for him in Fla. is there a Lou Gehrig Museum or anything honoring him, including something to do with his battle with ALS anywhere in the USA?
 
This question is definitely a challange.
Well, off the top of my head I know that a lot of Lou Gehrig's memiors from the Yankees were kept by his wife who then donated them to the Hall of Fame and such places that span all of baseball, so the odds of there being a reputable museum strictly about Lou Gehrig are slim, especially if I haven't come across it yet. But there's still a chance one is out there, perhaps in development, of little fame.
There were a number of Little League diamonds named after him during the 40s, his family and friend donated ambulances to the city of New York in his honor, and his fraternity started the Lou Gehrig Memorial in 1953 honoring MLB players of upstanding character, to name a few tributes. Gehrig was fortunate in the way that there isn't one, single place in honor of him (that I know of yet); instead he has a number of tributes and memorials to him throughout the country throughout history (for more tributes visit
Memorials and Tributes to Gehrig).
In summation, by god, there should be a Lou Gehrig museum. He's only the best first baseman ever (arguably), one of the top hitters and most memorable figures in baseball. At the same time, Gehrig hated being alone in the spotlight, so perhaps his memorabilia being displayed among the other baseball greats' is the perfect situation.

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Did Lou Gehrig drink? If so, what was his favorite beverage?
Alan Gooding

Hello Mr. Gooding,
If by drinking you mean consuming the "evils" offered in taverns, then the answer is not really.
Though he was and is widely known for his lay-off approach to alcohol, he did swig a few every now and again, mostly beer.
As you browse through MoreGehrig, you'll be tickled to find an article conveying his two-week "bender" during which he kept himself continuously drunk-- he believed that he hit better when he was drunk.
For the full story, read Gehrig the Drunk.
In another instance of temporary moral lapse, Gehrig got bombed after the 1938 World Series. Of course, this was mostly due to the fact that he was slumping horribly and losing strength rapidly, and no one yet knew why (later they would find out it was because he was ill). You might also be interested in
Gehrig's Defiance of Good, an article examining the little-known faults of Gehrig.
 
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Where was Gehrig buried?
 
Techniclly "he" wasn't buried.  He was cremated, and his remains are in Kensico Cemetery, Valhalla, NY.  A headstone for Gehrig was erected that mistakenly claims he was born in 1905 (he was really born in 1903).  Valhalla is, roughly, 45 minutes from Manhattan.  To see a picture of his headstone, click His Grave

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I need to put together a timeline of key events in Lou's life. Do you know where I could find one?
Thanks,
Matt
 
Hello, Matt.
A ready-made time line?  Mmmm.  I haven't come across one on the 'net, sorry to say.  But if I were making a timeline, I would go off of the biography quick-bite presented on
http://www.lougehrig.com (the official Gehrig site).  You'll have to do some light reading, but it goes in chronological order and gives the highlights of his life and career.  And if you do find a timeline on the 'net, please, send the URL my way!
 
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Did Lou Gehrig have a wife or kid? This is fo r a school report please give me answer within the next day?
 gehrigs biggest fan,
 Jake14
 
Yes, Jake, he had a wife, Eleanor Twitchell, whom he married on the last gameday of Fall 1933.  They were unable to have children, and though they thought about adoption, Mom Gehrig refused to give her blessing.  Because Gehrig was prone to do what she wanted, he and Eleanor did not adopt.
 
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I was just wondering why Gehrig was given the nickname, "Larrupin' Lou". Thank you.
 
It's a derivative, acutally.  Gehrig and Babe Ruth had regular off-season barnstorming tours.  "Larrupin' Lous" was the name of Gehrig's barnstorming team that brothered Babe Ruth's "Bustin' Babes"... obviously the marketers of the time wanted a catchy team name so they used the first letter of each man's name and went from there.
Larrup is defined by Webster's as "to whip; flog; beat."  A perfect parallel to "bustin'."  (You'll note that the marketers focused on the men's slugging ability.)

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