Tuesday, June 19, 2007

Happy Birthday, Lou Gehrig!

The Iron Horse is 105 today. He died a little over 66 years ago on June 2, 1941. Twenty-three years later, in 1964, I made my first trip to the school library (2nd grade) and selected Lou Gehrig: Boy of the Sandlots, by Guernsey Van Riper; Bobbs-Merril, 1959. This selection coincided with my beginning Little League Baseball. I was eight years old and in love with the sport. Lou Gehrig became my hero after I read this Childhood of Famous Americans classic.

Several decades later, before I got into bookselling and more serious collecting, I learned there was an edition that preceded the edition I grew up with. The first edition was published in 1949, same publisher (Bobbs-Merrill). It was illustrated with silhouettes instead of pictures. I could not relate to this or any other of the silhouette books in the series. I grew up with the reprints, and, as a collector now, I still look for and prefer the reprints, whose jackets of soft colors and basic geometric shapes never fail to provide me with a burst of pleasant nostalgia. I do collect the first editions, but they don't create that connection with my childhood like the later printings do.

Here are a few other Gehrig biographies from my collection. These are a bit harder to find than other books written about him.

Lou Gehrig: A Quiet Hero, by Frank Graham; G.P. Putnam's Sons, NY, 1942

Lou Gehrig: Pride of the Yankees, by Paul Gallico; Grosset & Dunlap, NY, 1942 (Jacket features Gehrig and Gary Cooper, who played Gehrig in the 1942 film, Pride of the Yankees)

Lou Gehrig: The Iron Horse of Baseball, by Richard Hubler; Houghton Mifflin, Boston, 1941

My Luke and I: Mrs. Gehrig's Joyous and Tragic Love for the Iron man of Baseball, by Eleanor Gehrig and Joseph Durso; Thomas Y. Crowell Company, NY, 1976

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