Last Ride of the Iron Horse Book Review

The Last Ride of the Iron Horse is subtitled “How Lou Gehrig Fought ALS to Play One Final Championship Season” and the author, Dan Joseph, used radio broadcasts, newspaper stories, and rare film footage to share the story of Lou Gehrig’s difficult and final year in the New York Yankees’ lineup. Baseball Almanac loved it, enjoying how brief and well-researched it was, TRULY enjoying the telegram-style game recaps, but what happened when we gave it to Shaq, a baseball book expert…

Last Ride of the Iron Horse

RICK “SHAQ” GOLDSTEIN SAYS: THERE’S NOT MUCH NEW TO WRITE ABOUT LOU GEHRIG

Hall of Fame New York Yankee Lou Gehrig … was perhaps the greatest first baseman in baseball history. His exploits as a ballplayer… and just as importantly his personal character on and off the field is legendary and will live on in the annals of baseball history and humanity.

So much has been written about him in the seventy-eight years since his passing… and even a movie starring Gary Cooper as Lou … was released after his death and won an academy award.

Synonymous with Lou’s home-runs … hits… batting average… fielding… championships… and all around good citizenship… was his quick… and unfortunately losing… battle… with Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS). Due to Lou’s popularity… and the attention his affliction brought to this horrid disease… it is known more commonly to everyday people as “Lou Gehrig’s Disease”.

With all the multitude of books written over the decades about the legend… “ Larrupin’ Lou ” (“after a nineteenth-century verb that means “to beat or thrash””)… along with a Hollywood movie… and ESPN Lou Gehrig Baseball Card specials… there really isn’t much virginal literary ground when it comes to Gehrig . What the author’s game plan was… was to highlight Gehrig’s last complete season… 1938… before the disease made him end his consecutive game streak (since broken by Cal Ripken, Jr. )… end his career… and fight a short battle against his demise.

The crux of the storytelling… is how Gehrig had his worst season ever… and trying to reverse engineer what comes across as trying to create 20/20 vision as to his demise and athletic regression with quotes from teammates and opponents… decades upon decades later… as if they knew what was happening in 1938.

Amazingly … what was Gehrig’s worst season… was easily a season… that ninety-per-cent of big leaguers would probably have demanded a salary increase for the next season… if they had a season such as Lou’s. Gehrig’s 1938 stats included a 295 batting average… 29 home runs… 114 RBI’s… 115 runs scored…170 hits… 32 doubles… 6 triples… and 107 walks.

The trouble I found with the writing style… was that game… after game… after game… of the 1938 season… is reviewed as if from an old Western Union teletype in the days when that’s how they transmitted baseball scores and activity. A myriad of games all describing the weakness of Lou’s bat… the stranding of base runners… comments about loss of strength with promises of improvement… and of course the ubiquitous “looking back” with unimpeachable clarity thirty to seventy years later. The flow becomes flat in stretches.

No Gehrig book would be complete without his 4th of July “Luckiest Man Speech”… and an additional extremely touching scene… is with Lou sitting in the dugout the following day as a non-participant… Lou was overhead during the following scenario….

JOE GORDON WAS TEARING AROUND SECOND BASE AND GEHRIG SAID, ‘IF I WERE ONLY IN THAT BOY’S SHAPE I’D BE GLAD TO PLAY FOR NOTHING.’”

Of course the story ends sadly… because how could it not? Surprising is how poorly the Yankees treated one of the greatest players and Yankees of all-time… along with being a man of unimpeachable character… after he retired following the 1939 season… they literally told him they had no use for him and didn’t even offer him a meaningless title and salary… after seventeen years with the team!

NOTES : 1) This is a paperback book. 2) Not counting notes and index it is 179 pages long. 3) Ten of those pages are non-glossy black and white photos.

Amazon : Last Ride of the Iron Horse

Reviewer : Rick “Shaq” Goldstein

Three Stars

Leave a Reply

Copyright 1999-2020. All Rights Reserved by Baseball Almanac, Inc.
"Where what happened yesterday is being preserved today."
Baseball Almanac@BaseballAlmanac07 Aug
Jose Ramirez (@MrLapara) hit HR lefty & righty in same game-again! @Indians all-time leader (6). Tied in #MLB histo… twitter.com/i/web/status/1…
Baseball Almanac@BaseballAlmanac07 Aug
Happy International Beer Day from Baseball Almanac! ❤️⚾️❤️🍺 IG Pic of the Day: instagram.com/baseballalmana…twitter.com/i/web/status/1…
Baseball Almanac@BaseballAlmanac07 Aug
RIP Horace Clarke (😢). 2B with #NewYork #Yankees (1965-74) & #SanDiego #Padres (1974). Horace Clarke Era is defined… twitter.com/i/web/status/1…
Baseball Almanac@BaseballAlmanac06 Aug
Where’s Waldo? We’ve carefully hidden a slightly different baseball in this stunning photograph of artistic magnitu… twitter.com/i/web/status/1…
Baseball Almanac@BaseballAlmanac06 Aug
1️⃣,7️⃣9️⃣1️⃣ #MLB players have #Twitter accounts & #BaseballAlmanac has them ALL listed on same page of #research.… twitter.com/i/web/status/1…
Baseball Almanac@BaseballAlmanac06 Aug
Jack Stivetts threw a #NoHitter #otd 1892, 1st in franchise #history for #Braves. #OTD 2020: #BaseballAlmanac added… twitter.com/i/web/status/1…
Baseball Almanac@BaseballAlmanac05 Aug
The #Washington #Senators played a #doubleheader #otd 1909 - their 8th consecutive set of #doubleheaders that seaso… twitter.com/i/web/status/1…
Baseball Almanac@BaseballAlmanac05 Aug
We are FAR from perfect, however, we are ALWAYS willing to try and make things perfect! It's what we've been doing… twitter.com/i/web/status/1…
Baseball Almanac@BaseballAlmanac04 Aug
Baseball Almanac [baseball-almanac.com] started in 1999. It literally has 500,000+ pages of #MLB history! Triple… twitter.com/i/web/status/1…
Baseball Almanac@BaseballAlmanac04 Aug
DYK there was a NL team in #Buffalo, called the #Bisons (s/a modern @MiLB team)? Rosters (1879-1885) & schedules ha… twitter.com/i/web/status/1…
Baseball Almanac@BaseballAlmanac04 Aug
Vic Raschi [baseball-almanac.com/players/player…] set a still-unbroken RBI #record #otd 1953. Springfield Rifle set a balks mark… twitter.com/i/web/status/1…
Baseball Almanac@BaseballAlmanac02 Aug
UPDATED: Tyler Alexander just tied (9-straight) the American League record for Most Consecutive Strikeouts by a Pit… twitter.com/i/web/status/1…
Baseball Almanac@BaseballAlmanac01 Aug
UPDATED VIC WERTZ: Rcvd via email a GREAT quote made after he retired, added it, integrated a "Catch" photo, detail… twitter.com/i/web/status/1…
Baseball Almanac@BaseballAlmanac01 Aug
It's National Mustard Day! Want to share a #hotdog with #mustard with #BaseballAlmanac? ❤️⚾🌭 #NationalMustardDaytwitter.com/i/web/status/1…
Baseball Almanac@BaseballAlmanac31 Jul
#OTD in 1954 in Baseball Almanac: Joe Adcock hit four #HomeRuns in the same game, 7th player in #MLB #history, at… twitter.com/i/web/status/1…
Baseball Almanac@BaseballAlmanac31 Jul
#RIP John McNamara (😥) #MLB #manager with Oakland Athletics (1969-70), San Diego Padres (1974-77), Cincinnati Reds… twitter.com/i/web/status/1…
Baseball Almanac@BaseballAlmanac31 Jul
Cobb, Foxx, Gehrig, Klein, Seerey each had #MLB #record 16 TBs in a game. In '50 Gil Hodges broke it (17). #OTD 195… twitter.com/i/web/status/1…
Baseball Almanac@BaseballAlmanac30 Jul
1 Pitch (out #1). 1 Pitch (out #2). 1 Pitch (out #3). Ramon Ortiz (L) had a 3-PITCH INNING #otd 2006. HELP… twitter.com/i/web/status/1…
Baseball Almanac@BaseballAlmanac30 Jul
#TRIVIA: #otd 2013, this pitcher recorded an immaculate inning (exactly 9 pitches thrown, all 9 were strikes). Answ… twitter.com/i/web/status/1…
Baseball Almanac@BaseballAlmanac30 Jul
ICYMI: The Cubs turned a triple play yesterday. Every Triple Play in Major League Baseball history is on… twitter.com/i/web/status/1…
Desktop Version