A baseball icon, as never before portrayed.
Gehrig’s losing struggle with Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS) offers one of the saddest and most poignant instances of a popular athlete dying young in sports history. This tragic battle was so public that ALS is now popularly known as Lou Gehrig’s disease. Countless biographies of Gehrig (1903–41) have focused mainly on his illness and his stupendous record of 2,130 consecutive games played, which earned the well-loved New York Yankee the nickname Iron Horse. Wall Street Journal writer Eig chronicles the illness and marvels at the record, of course, but he’s not content merely to retell a familiar story. The author digs deeper, uncovering 200 pages of previously unpublished correspondence to and from the ballplayer and interviewing hundreds of people, including over 30 former players who knew him well. This research pays off handsomely as lesser-known aspects of Gehrig’s life become more prominent, including his childhood in New York City and his close relationship with his mother. The reader also learns about the surprisingly bad blood between Gehrig and Babe Ruth, supposedly due to a sexual infidelity. With these rich details, Eig crafts a portrait that goes far beyond the usual rendering of the doomed ballplayer as a tragic soul who bravely endured, “poor Lou” stoically soldiering on until his death. Yes, Gehrig is depicted as a man who faced death without complaint, but he’s also outstandingly portrayed as a fallible man with faults and peccadilloes. Eig’s highly readable account brings uncommon humanity to a legendary, golden sports hero.
One of those sports biographies that transcends sports.