06/18/2003 6:42 PM ET
Baseball remembers the Iron Horse
Lou Gehrig's legacy is still very much live in Major League Baseball today. MLB.com caught up with players and coaches around the big leagues to get their thoughts on the 100th anniversary of the Iron Horse's birth and what he meant to the game.
Tino Martinez, Cardinals
"He played every game. He was the Iron Horse. Day in, day out, he typified back then what today's Yankees think of as Yankees, a guy going out and playing hard every single day, making no excuses, and he just knew how to play the game."
Todd Helton, Rockies
"Gehrig was a guy who went out there and enjoyed playing the game. He went out there and played as long and as hard as he could. I go out there and play everyday, even if something is bothering me because you never know when the
game, or even life itself gets taken away."
Derek Jeter, Yankees
"He was the model of consistency, and not just with his consecutive game streak. Day in and day out, you hear about how much respect people had for him. He's one of the first names that comes to mind when you talk about the Yankees."
Shawn Green, Dodgers
"I admire what he did and the way he did it. He and Cal Ripken accomplished milestones with their streaks that I feel are the most incredible records in baseball. I just feel it's your job to keep going out there no matter what. Part of that is from the examples they set. But I admit part of that is from being a platoon player my first three years. I was so frustrated that I decided once I got in there, I would stay in there."
Luis Gonzalez, D-Backs (had a 446-game streak snapped in August, 2002)
"You see what Cal and Lou did in baseball and you won't see that anymore. None of us were around in Gehrig's time, but the type of approach he took to playing this game was amazing. If you play the game, you realize how difficult it is to go out there every day and play every day. So to see what he did. It's really amazing...He passed away from ALS and it made a huge impact on so many people as far as bringing attention to the disease and the need to find a cure. Curt Schilling is a good example. He's heavily involved with it."
Jeff Conine, Orioles
"He's one of the greatest of all time, streak or no streak. He had like five season of over 170 RBIs. That's ridiculous. He averaged almost an RBI a game, that's absurd. You think of streak of him but I think one of the best ever, streak or no streak. I think he's more famous for the streak than he should be. He was that good. It's a monumental feat. But to put up the numbers he did injured on more than one occasion is remarkable."
Randy Wolf, Phillies
"The thing about Lou Gehrig is that he was the unsung hero for a long time because he had Babe Ruth on his team. If it wasn't for Babe Ruth, he would have been the best player of that era. He was the All-American guy. New York Yankee, good guy and was the big muscle guy of that time. The tragedy of his death makes him a folk legend because he seemed undestructable and strong, then he gets struck with this disease that takes away all your strength...You really can't understand what someone goes through in that situation -- to go from king of the world to someone who needs help getting out of bed. Gehrig didn't feel sorry for himself. He lived up to who he is. He was an American hero. That's why his farewell speech will always be known."
David Eckstein, Angels
"He was the consummate professional. He was ready for his opportunity when it came. Always prepared. And he took full advantage of it when it was his time."
Benji Gil, Angels (who has a son named Gehrig)
"The fact that he played as many games as he did is something that I always would have loved to do. To be out there every day and be consistent is just unbelievable. I always thought he was one of the best if not the best of all time from a numbers standpoint, but having learned a lot about him and the disease he battled, it's even more impressive to me to know the type of courage he had."
Mike Lowell, Marlins
"You know him as the Iron Horse. His famous speech. A lot of people have tried to use it because it speaks so well for somebody who spent their life in the big leagues. Nothing negative has ever has been told about him. He is part of the great Yankee tradition."
Derrek Lee, Marlins (has longest current game streak in NL at 282)
"He was a great player who went out there and played every day. He had a great streak, something that they thought would never be broken. I can't comprehend (the streak). That's years and years and years of never missing a game. You have to be fortunate not to have one injury, and not missing a game at all. To be able to play that long and not ever being benched, that's pretty impressive. The last couple of years, I've had some bruises and nicks and knacks. I'm sure in more than 10 years, he had to have played through some pretty serious things."
Andy Fox, Marlins
"For me, because I grew up in the Yankee system. That was one of the names you were always talking about. I think his legacy has two parts that work close together. His streak, No. 1. No. 2, the disease that he had. He played through it, from what I understand, toward the end of his career he was battling through it. I think that's one of the most impressive things. And being the player that he was, made people that much aware. Anytime you are in the Yankee system, you are aware of the history and the people involved that helped make that history. Say a guy didn't want to play on a particular day, they would remind you about Lou Gehrig playing every day."
Chad Zerbe, Giants
"Players like Gehrig, the old-school ballplayers, are respected. Baseball is built on them. They set the path and ways and we try to keep things going. I've contributed and helped for the ALS in ways that I'm able to through baseball, and helped as much as I could to find a cure. I know what they go through -- it's a nasty disease."
Ty Wigginton, Mets
"When I think of Lou Gehrig, I think of a complete ballplayer. He did it all. When you think of baseball, you think of him, because he's a guy nobody should forget. Everybody knows who he was, even outside of New York. As a kid growing up, you learn to know who Lou Gehrig was and what he meant to baseball."
Mets third baseman Ty Wigginton on Lou Gehrig.
John Vander Wal, Brewers
"He was obviously a large part of the history of the Bronx Bombers. I was only there a year, but it was something special. I've said before that it's a huge honor to put any big league uniform, but when you put that uniform on and you're in that stadium, and you know the history of the place and the history of the players in that clubhouse, it's a different feeling."
Joe Torre, Yankees
"You still know who he is and what he accomplished, and to me, that's quite a tribute. He is what you try to teach all teams to be like. When they hurt, you don't pay attention to it, you grind through it. Your allegiance is what's best for your team...We've all seen the movie. It's something that's sustained. We look at Cal Ripken in a different light because he broke Lou Gehrig's record, because we all know who Lou Gehrig was and what he represented."
Buck Showalter, Rangers
"I grew up watching the Lou Gehrig story so I have always been a fan. I'm
not sure the players these days appreciate him, but I know I do. C'mon, he
was the Iron Horse, a grinder and the he played everyday. Who wouldn't want
that type of player on their team? He still means a lot to this game."
Bobby Cox, Braves
"He was the original Iron Man. When I was a kid there were just a few names that I knew and Gehrig and Ruth were two of them. He played in all those straight games and still hit .340. That's being really tough. I'd have to say he's probably the best first baseman ever in my mind."
Lou Piniella, Devil Rays
"He was a great player, more of a quiet-type leader who could really hit a baseball. He set the standard for Ripken to break. He was overshadowed a little but really shouldn't have been. Anytime you play with Babe Ruth you are going to be overshadowed."
Bruce Bochy, Padres
"I think we are the luckiest guys on the face of the earth. We're doing
something we love to do. The way he played the game and his streak, this guy
was really one of the immortals in all of baseball. We all look up to the
way he played the game, the way he led his life."
Ken Macha, A's
"We have a whole lot of things now available to players. Our conditioning is better, our diets, They were traveling on trains, we have airplanes. ... To me it doesn't matter -- a guy who goes out and plays that many games in a row, wherever it is, is incredible. To not have a major injury or anything like that is amazing."
Bob Melvin, Mariners
"Curt Schilling is the ALS guy in Arizona and I know it is something very dear to his heart. He asked me to be a part of the ceremonies on the field Thursday and has passed upon to me what a great deal this is. It doesn't seem like Lou Gehrig would be that old. You feel like he's only been out of the game for 20 years or something like that. It just doesn't seem he would be 100 years old. His legacy lives on as though he's currently here."
Mike Cubbage, Red Sox
"On those great Yankees teams, he was one of the all-time great
players in history. The power numbers, the average, the streak, he had the whole
package. I know he was a college guy, a great man. The way he handled his
disease and his early death was truly one of the great moments in baseball
history...I have some pieces of Gehrig memorabilia in my collection just because I
admired him that much."
This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.