Today's feature is the 1942 classic The Pride of the Yankees, with Gary Cooper starring as baseball legend Lou Gehrig.
I don't think there is too much I need to tell you about the story: The son of German immigrants becomes a star for the New York Yankees and plays in 2130 consecutive games before being struck down by ALS. The movie spends much more time showing Lou the son and husband than it does of Lou the ballplayer. That was the only way the studio felt the movie would get any women in the theaters.
Babe Ruth was featured prominently in the movie. Shot years after he last played, Ruth's weight had ballooned and he worked hard to get close to his playing size. Personality wise, Ruth and Gehrig were opposites, and apparently weren't the closest of friends off the field. It must have been bittersweet for Ruth film a movie on his teammates' life. Other former Yankee teammates in the movie include Bob Meusel, Mark Koenig, and Bill Dickey.
Gary Cooper was a bit reluctant to take the role because of his age (he was a 41 year old having to portrait someone 10-20 years younger) and his athletic ability, A righty, Cooper didn't think he would look convincing batting left handed. The studio solved the problem by giving Cooper a Yankee uniform with backwards lettering. He was filmed batting right handed and then the flim was flipped around; voila...instant lefty! I know I've seen a picture of Cooper in the backwards uni, but I couldn't find it anywhere.
Cubs Connection: There's not a whole lot here, since Gehrig spent his entire career with the Yankees in the American league. He did face the Cubs in the World Series twice, going 13 for 31, good for a .419 average. The most unique Cubs / Gehrig connection I found was this: the first major league park that Gehrig hit a home run in was....
....Wrigley Field. In 1920, his Commerce High School team came to Chicago to take on it's best high school team, Lane Tech. The game was played at Wrigley Field (Lane is on the north side and it's current campus is just a couple miles west of Wrigley on Addison Street) and Lou smacked a grand slam over the right field fence.
This picture shows you what right field looked like at Wrigley Field in 1920. Actually, in 1920 it was Cubs Park.