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Lou Gehrig Biography
Gehrig was born Ludwig Heinrich Gehrig in the Yorkville section of Manhattan, the son of poor German immigrants Heinrich Gehrig and Christina Fack. His father worked as a janitor (although his occupation was listed as "iron worker" in the 1920 U.S. Census) but was frequently unemployed because of epilepsy, so his mother was the breadwinner and disciplinarian. Both parents considered baseball to be a schoolyard game; his domineering mother steered young Lou toward a career in architecture because an uncle in Germany was a financially successful architect. Lou Gehrig went to PS 132 in the Washington Heights section of Manhattan and then to Commerce High School. Gehrig attended Columbia University (although he did not graduate), where he was a member of Phi Delta Theta fraternity.
He could not, at first, play intercollegiate baseball for the Lions because he played baseball for a summer professional league during his freshman year. At the time, he was unaware that doing so jeopardized his eligibility to play any collegiate sport. Gehrig was ruled eligible to play on the Lions' football team and was a standout fullback. He later gained baseball eligibility and joined the Lions on that squad as well. Gehrig first garnered national attention for his baseball ability while playing in a game at Cubs Park (now Wrigley Field) on June 26, 1920. Gehrig's New York School of Commerce team was playing a team from Chicago's Lane Tech High School. With his team winning 8-6 in the eighth inning, Gehrig hit a grand slam completely out of the Major League ballpark, an unheard-of feat for a 17-year old high school boy. On April 18, 1923, when Yankee Stadium opened for the first time, Babe Ruth christened the new stadium with a home run. On the same afternoon at Columbia, pitcher Gehrig struck out seventeen 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 Gehrig for some time. However, it was not Gehrig's pitching that particularly impressed him. Instead, it was Gehrig's powerful left-handed hitting. During the time Krichell had been watching Gehrig, Gehrig had hit some of the longest home runs ever seen on various Eastern campuses. Within two months Gehrig had signed his name to a Yankee contract.
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