Results tagged ‘ beer ’

Lou Gehrig’s letter to his doctor reveals a very real side to a baseball legend


Most of what we know about Lou Gehrig and the disease that ended his life at age 37 centers around a few basic facts that have been well-documented in history books and through story-telling.

There was the noticeable decline in his performance on the field that led to an abrupt retirement at age 35. And, of course, his farewell speech on July 4, 1939, that ended with “Today I consider myself the luckiest man of the face of the earth,” which still, to this day, is considered the epitome of bravery and class in sports.

We know that the devastating effects of what is today best known as “Lou Gehrig’s Disease” — officially amyotrophic lateral sclerosis — came on quickly, debilitated him completely, and ended his life too soon, only two years after the original diagnosis.

But there are other parts of this story that haven’t been as well-documented and are just as fascinating, and tell a lot more about Lou Gehrig, the person.

He was, at his core, a normal man, dealing with his disease in the same manner as many who are afflicted with something that eventually could be, or undoubtedly will be, fatal. He followed doctor’s orders to the letter while finding a balance between dealing with the disease with some degree of optimism, while also being realistic about where he may be headed.

In other words, he was just like the rest of us.

A letter Gehrig wrote to Paul O’Leary, the doctor who diagnosed him with ALS at the Mayo Clinic, gives a touching glimpse as to what Gehrig was going through at the time. It showed Gehrig’s tremendous sense of humor and realness, like when he assured his doctor more than once that he was most definitely NOT drinking beer while taking the medication they were hoping would slow the effects of the disease.

This letter, and hundreds of other unique memorabilia items, is up for bid through an online auction held by SCP Auctions, located in southern California. Being a somewhat nutty baseball history buff, I took a ride to their headquarters on Friday to check out some of the swag in person. Gehrig’s letter was by far the coolest thing on display, which is saying a lot, considering other items included game-worn jerseys belonging to Sandy Koufax and Hank Aaron and Satchel Paige’s Hall of Fame ring.

Parts of Gehrig’s letter were heartbreaking. He wrote about how great he felt from the Thiamin injections, and you can really feel how hopeful he was that this would be a miracle cure of sorts. We know now, of course, that those Thiamin injections were nothing more than vitamins, giving a placebo effect rather than offering a real cure.


(click on image for larger view)

“Please understand I have taken approximately only eighteen or nineteen to date, and the results almost make me dread the day when I shall have to stop them,” Gehrig wrote. “If Dr. Gehrig were prescribing for Lou Gehrig he would urge the continuation of these injections.”

Gehrig went on to describe that what normally made him tired in the morning — brushing his teeth, shaving, combing his hair, buttoning buttons — was somewhat lessened from the Thiamin. Driving became easier, his energy levels were higher at night and the shaking had largely subsided.


You can hear the urgency through his words, as he was clearly trying to convince his doctor to continue the injections, indefinitely.

Gehrig’s medical issues, amazingly, didn’t deter him from also working to accommodate his doctor and some friends with World Series tickets, and he sounded genuinely concerned with making sure O’Leary could logistically get there in time for the games.

Other things we now know about Gehrig: he liked to use the term “swell guy,” he had a tremendous ability to spell, and he was funny: “Another prospective customer is Harry Geisel,” Gehrig wrote as a P.P.S. “A swell guy even though he is an umpire.”

The letter came from the estate of Dr. O’Leary, which sold it a few years ago before it was obtained by SCP Auctions. Some other items up for bid — specifically, Paige’s Hall of Fame ring, and Babe Ruth’s gold pocket watch from the 1948 celebration of the 25th anniversary of the opening of “The House That Ruth Built,” came directly from the families.

The auction, which runs until 10 p.m. ET on Saturday, includes hundreds of items, from the more affordable to the really high-end and exorbitant. Some of the memorabilia came from the Newport Sports Museum Collection, consisting of more than 10,000 game-used artifacts from every major sport.

There’s some great stuff here. But I am partial to Gehrig’s letter, which begins with a line I might text to a buddy on my lunch break:

“Dear Paul: Just a note to say ‘hello’ and find out how you all are…The best I hope. And before I go any further may I frankly assure you that I haven’t even had ONE beer.”


Other cool stuff:

0516_Munson Rookie Cather's Mitt

Thurman Munson’s catcher’s mitt from his rookie year in 1969


0516_Closeup of Watch

A Ruth family heirloom: a 14-karat Longines pocket watch. Since Ruth’s death in 1948, the watch has been carefully preserved by his family and is one of just a few items that hasn’t been gifted to the National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum.

Game-worn jerseys of Sandy Koufax (from the 1965 season) and Hank Aaron (1967).

Game-worn jerseys of Sandy Koufax (from the 1965 season) and Hank Aaron (1967).


Satchel Paige's Hall of Fame ring that he received upon his induction in 1971.

Satchel Paige’s Hall of Fame ring that he received upon his induction in 1971.

Minute Maid Park in 2012: cheaper tickets, cheaper beer, new outside food and beverage policy.

The day that Jim Crane officially became the owner of the Houston Astros, he hinted that several changes were on the way that would benefit fans in 2012.

This wasn’t just window dressing. Asked during the press conference in November if those changes included lowering ticket prices, Crane indicated that was indeed the area that he and President/CEO George Postolos would be focusing their attention on in the immediate future.

Turns out, Crane consulted with the staff on these issues even before he took over as the Astros’ owner. And now, less than three months before Opening Day, a comprehensive plan has been put in place.

Ticket prices for more 5,000 seats have been lowered, and more affordable beer prices will be offered throughout the ballpark. And for the first time since Minute Maid Park opened, fans will be permitted to bring in their own food and beverages.

“We feel this is the right thing to do,” Crane said. “It is a way for us to let our fans know how vital they are to our success, and to let them know we’ve been listening to them.”

From the get-go, Crane has been open-minded about fan ideas and suggestions. He has attended several meet and greets throughout January with season ticket holders, and many of the decisions made to lower prices and allow outside food and drink were made after hearing the feedback from the fans.

Here’s the skinny:


The Astros reduced the price of seats in the Field and Club levels and the Outfield Deck.

Seats in Field Box II (section 132, rows 11-40 and all of sections 133-134) are now priced at $29, down from $41 in 2011. The new Power Club (sections 233-236) in the Club Level offers tickets for $35 that includes a $15 credit for food, beverage and retail items. Those seats were $46 in 2011 with no food credit.

The Outfield Deck tickets are now $5 for adults and $1 for kids ages 3-14 . In 2011, adult tickets were $7. With this reduction, a family of four can attend a game for $12.

As a special thank you for their loyalty and commitment, the Astros will also issue five percent rebates to full-season and 27-game plan season ticket accounts in 2012 to those who have renewed their tickets by the Jan. 31 deadline. Those rebates will be distributed in the form of a gift card that can be used to purchase food, merchandise or individual game tickets at Minute Maid Park.


The Astros have expanded their $5 beer special to include every permanent concession stand and permanent bar at Minute Maid Park where domestic beer is sold. This beer in a 14-ounce cup will now be available at 35 locations throughout the ballpark.

Outside Food and Beverages:

Fans are now allowed to bring food and water into Minute Maid Park for games. Food must be transported in a small, clear (see-through) plastic bag, and water must be in a sealed, plastic bottle, being one liter or less in size. One bottle of water per person is allowed.


The Astros will also continue to offer several of the popular ticket specials that have been available in recent years:

Price Matters Days presented by H-E-B

This offer, which is available for every Monday through Thursday Astros game, includes one View Deck II ticket, one hot dog, a bag of H-E-B chips and one soda for $10, which represents a savings of over 50 percent. Also, for $10 more, fans can purchase a lower level seat in the Bullpen Boxes.

All You Can Eat

For $30, this deal includes a Mezzanine game ticket and unlimited hot dogs, popcorn, peanuts, nachos, soda and water and is available for every home game. Groups of 20 or more are eligible to purchase this package for $25.

Coca-Cola Value Zone

This offer, which is available for every Friday, Saturday and Sunday game, includes a Mezzanine ticket and Astros cap, as well as a hot dog and Coke product beverage for $20.

POWERADE Double Play Tuesdays

This offer, which is available every Tuesday, features two Outfield Deck tickets for $2. Additionally, fans can now also purchase two Field Box II tickets for $40, which is new in 2012.

9-Inning Lunch Break

This package is offered for weekday, 1:05 p.m. games and includes a Field Box ticket and $20 in Minute Maid Park food and beverage vouchers, which is a $61 value, for $45, a savings of $16 per ticket.

Dynamic Pricing

This offer is available for every Astros home game for select seats. Prices, which fluctuate based on demand, can represent up to 50% in savings per ticket.

Special Fundraising Pricing

Charities and community organizations can earn up to $10 per ticket by selling discounted Astros tickets.

Group Ticket Specials

With the Astros Group Ticket Program, groups of 20 or more can purchase discounted tickets. Group discounts can be as high as 50% per ticket, depending on the size of the group.

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