By Aris Sakellaridis
The next time you’re in a Walgreens, take a peek at the photo montage behind the cash registers. The black and white photos feature a smiling man standing by the pharmacy section. The man is wearing a lab coat and tending to customers. If you do not recognize that man, it’s okay, nobody else does.
Whenever I’m at the checkout line I seek out anyone who looks like they have some knowledge of sports. When I ask them, “Who is that man?”, pointing to the montage, the response is usually, “No idea!” Even customers wearing Yankee caps are clueless to the identity of the man wearing the lab coat. That man is Henry Louis Gehrig, the greatest Major League baseball player to ever come out of New York City.
Since Walgreens is using their old photos to promote their stores’ longevity, they need to take it a step further and sell copies of the movie “The Pride of the Yankees.” The Oscar winning film tells the story of the famed Yankees first baseman, Lou Gehrig, who’s portrayed by the legendary actor, Gary Cooper.
With each DVD sale, a box of tissues should be comped because you’re going to need them while viewing Gehrig’s story. “The Iron Horse” succumbed to Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS) just short of his 37th birthday. That was less than two years after his retirement in 1939.
Gehrig’s uniform #4 was the first digit to be retired by a Major League baseball team. We are living in a time where our legends are being forgotten, and maybe a pharmacy of Walgreens’ magnitude can keep Gehrig’s spirit alive. The Gehrig name also brings awareness to ALS, which is known as Lou Gehrig Disease.
The native New Yorker was born in the Yorkville neighborhood of E.94th Street in Manhattan before his family moved to Amsterdam Avenue in Washington Heights. Gehrig attended P.S. 132 (the same school as me) and started leaving his mark on the ballfield at the N.Y. School of Commerce, before attending Columbia University. After two semesters he was signed by the N.Y. Yankees and the rest is history.
2021 will mark the 80th anniversary of Gehrig’s death. Every New Yorker needs to be reminded of this legend, who is rightfully known as, “The Pride of the Yankees.” The movie with the same title tells his story, and his smiling face at the check-out line of Walgreens shows why he is the luckiest man on the face of the earth.