The Streak Begins

By | Jun 1, 2013

One June 1, 1925 a young ball player for the New York Yankees pinch-hit for shortstop Pee Wee Wanninger. Little did anyone know, especially Lou Gehrig, that he would play in 2130 consecutive games before a disease that would carry his name would cause him to sit down.

It’s always thought that he played his first game replacing Wally Pipp, who didn’t play because of a headache. While one story has it that Pipp had a headache, Pipp didn’t play because during batting practice of July 2nd he was hit in the head with fastball thrown by Charley Caldwell. One that sent him to the hospital for two weeks. By the time Pipp returned to the Yankees, Gehrig had been so successful that it wouldn’t have made sense to remove him from the lineup.

At the time the Yankees were in a decline. They were sitting in 7th place in an 8 team league. Wally Pipp was 32 years old while Gehrig was 10 years younger. Pipp was in a slump and the Manager, Miller Huggins, decided to allow the younger man to play in an attempt to win the spot. Pipp’s slot wasn’t the only change made during that time.

Gehrig would play in every game until he took himself out of the lineup on May 2, 1939. Babe Dahlgren would play first base on that day. Gehrig was slumping, he had begun to lose his stroke late in the 1938 season and the team was slumping. Ironically on May 2nd the Yankees scored 22 runs. Dahlgren had a home run and a double.

The last game Gehrig played during the steak, a streak that was predicted to never be broken, was April 30th. May 1st was an off day. Gehrig did not play another game. After being diagnosed with amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) he retired. He died two years later on June 2, 1941.

Records are made to be broken and this one was thought to last forever. That was until Baltimore’s Cal Ripken would play in his 2131st consecutive game on September 8, 1995. In all Ripken would play in 2,632 consecutive games, more than twice as many as Everett Scott, who sits in third place with 1307. Scott played from 1914 through 1926 and held the consecutive game streak until broken by Lou Gehrig.


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