by Harold Friend
The funeral service for Lou Gehrig was as simple and as modest as the man. On a rainy day in New York, only about 100 relatives, friends, and associates were at Christ Church in Riverdale. The Gehrig family requested that there would be no eulogy. None was necessary. The ceremony lasted eight minutes.
Bill Dickey and Bill Terry
Bill Dickey, who roomed with Lou Gehrig, flew in from Detroit, where the Yankees had played the Tigers. Bill told reporters, "Lou and I had an agreement that, whoever went first, the other would see him off." New York Giants manager Bill Terry, a man who had the reputation of being unemotional, choked up as the coffin passed him and tried to unobtrusively brush away tears.
Mr. and Mrs. Ruth
Mr. and Mrs. Babe Ruth arrived at the Gehrig residence at one o'clock in the morning. Babe expressed his deep regrets and sympathy. He broke down when he viewed the coffin the next night.
Mrs Gehrig Acquiesced
The funeral was private, but the public had viewed the body the previous day. Original plans had called for no public viewing, but so many individuals clamored to pay their respects that Mrs. Gehrig acquiesced. There was a line of people three blocks long, and it was estimated that 5,000 viewed the body.
Modesty, Courage, and Sincerity
Jean Horie, the executive secretary of the New York Youth Congress expressed America's feelings, especially those of its youngsters. "It was not so much the fact that he was a successful ball player, nor that he was famous, but it was rather that with all his prominence he maintained his modesty, courage, and sincerity."
As Long As He Wants to Play
Yankees' manager Joe McCarthy refused to take Lou out of the lineup despite his developing awareness of Lou's deteriorating health. "Gehrig plays as long as he wants to play." McCarthy knew that once Gehrig realized he was hindering the Yankees, he would bench himself.
Baseball men and politicians paid tribute to Lou Gehrig, but it was Frank Crosetti who expressed it best. "Everybody loved Lou. You couldn't help it. He gave everything he had every minute of the game."
Lou Gehrig was never spectacular, although he produced spectacular feats.
When Edward Hermann was selected to play Gehrig in the television movie, "A Love Affair: The Eleanor and Lou Gehrig Story," the actor had difficulty.
"What made it so tough is I could find no 'key' to his character. There was no strangeness, nothing spectacular about him. As Eleanor Gehrig told me, he was just a square, honest guy."
Lou Gehrig was much more than a "square, honest guy."
Fans can argue that other players had more talent or greater careers, but no one can claim that anyone associated with baseball had more integrity or epitomized dignity more than Lou Gehrig.