Today 86 years ago, Yankees’ first baseman Lou Gehrig wasn’t really able to play due to what was then believed to be lumbago. Still, he was put on the lineup card to keep his streak alive.
As Lou Gehrig was hit by “lumbago” the previous day, he wasn’t able to play first base the following day. But the star first baseman asked his manager, Joe McCarthy, to let him bat leadoff and put him at shortstop on the lineup card to keep his streak alive. In that game on July 13, Gehrig felt a sharp pain in his back while legging out a base hit. At first, he wanted to continue to play but when he realized that he could not bend over to field a ball, he had no other choice than leaving the game.
When the game on July 14 vs the Tigers started, Gehrig hit a leadoff single and was replaced by pinch-runner Red Rolfe, who would continue to play at short.
The incident earned Gehrig some bad press as some sportswriters questioned the value of his streak. But James M. Kahn of the New York Sun remembered Gehrig having excruciating pain in the game of July 13. Kahn noted similar attacks in the following seasons. The Yankees and Gehrig dismissed the incidents as lumbago or back cold but nowadays we know that these cases were the omen of ALS Gehrig would suffer from.