Lou Gehrig was the talented first baseman who played his entire career (1923-1939) for the New York Yankees. He was a seven-time All-Star and set several major league records during his career, including most grand slams and most consecutive games played.
He retired days after being diagnosed with ALS (now commonly known as Lou Gehrig’s disease in the U.S.). He died in mid-1941.
So the the baby name Gehrig surpassing that 5-baby threshold and debuting in the U.S. baby name data in the year 1944 — years after Gehrig was gone — didn’t make much sense to me at first.
- 1946: unlisted
- 1945: unlisted
- 1944: 5 baby boys named Gehrig
- 1943: unlisted
- 1942: unlisted
It made more sense after I learned about the movie The Pride of the Yankees, a fictionalized account of Lou Gehrig’s life. It was first released in New York for one night only in the summer 1942, but didn’t see nationwide release until the spring of 1943. The film “was awash in honest sentiment and became a sizable box-office hit.” It was also nominated for 11 Academy Awards, though it won only one.
Where does the surname Gehrig come from? It’s German — a variant of Gehring, which is based on the Germanic element gar or ger, meaning “spear.”
What are your thoughts on using Gehrig as a baby name?
- Crowther, Bosley. “‘Pride of the Yankees,’ a Film Biography of Lou Gehrig, With Gary Cooper and Teresa Wright, on View at Astor.” New York Times 16 Jul. 1942.
- Hanks, Patrick. (Ed.) Dictionary of American Family Names. New York: Oxford University Press, 2003.
- The Pride of the Yankees – TCM
- Robinson, Ray. “Backtalk; Becoming a Yankee Fan, By Way of Hollywood.” New York Times 4 Jul. 1999.