Every so often, there is a bit of symmetry in baseball that adds to the fascination of the sport. Roger Maris hit 61 home runs in 1961. Stan Musial had 3,630 career hits, 1,815 at home and 1,815 on the road.
That brings us to Lou Gehrig and June 2nd.
On June 2, 1925, Yankees manager Miller Huggins sent Gehrig out to play first base. It was the beginning of a remarkable 2,130 consecutive game streak, a record that lasted until Cal Ripken broke it six decades later.
On June 2, 1941, Gehrig died of the progressive neurodegenerative disease Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis that now bears his name. He was 38 years old.
Baseball will honor the memory of perhaps the greatest first baseman in history on June 2nd with on field ceremonies and sleeve patches. This overdue tribute will become an annual honor as baseball gets around to saluting the memory of one of its iconic stars. And now the popular baseball board game Strat-O-Matic will mark the date as well.
Strat-O-Matic is donating 10 percent of its net sales on June 2nd to the ALS Association Greater New York Chapter, which is dedicated to finding a cure for the disease that took Gehrig’s life.
The game people are also conducting three simulations designed by its research team that offer intriguing examinations of Gehrig and some other sluggers. The first is a speculation of what Gehrig might have accomplished had his career continued past 1939 when the disease forced him out of the game. The second is a home run derby matching four Yankee sluggers – Gehrig, Maris, Babe Ruth and Mickey Mantle. The third is a contest matching all-time stars who wore Gehrig’s No. 4, a popular digit for some of baseball greatest hitters like Mel Ott, Jimmie Foxx and Rogers Hornsby. All, like Gehrig, are in the Hall of Fame.
Gehrig’s accomplishments are legendary. There were 13 straight seasons of over 100 runs batted in and he finished his career just five RBIs short of 2,000. There was 493 home runs and a career batting average of .340.
What more could he have produced had ALS not forced his retirement at age 36? That’s what Start-O-Matic will try to find out. It is an intriguing speculation and should add to the fascination this immensely popular game has held for baseball fans young and old since it came on the market in 1962.