Lou Gehrig was and remains my sports hero. By the time he retired in 1939, the Columbia University graduate displayed exceptional stamina (he played in 2,130 consecutive games, whether fit or injured, between 1925 and 1939). He epitomized the dignified athlete and didn’t mind playing second fiddle to Babe Ruth while setting baseball records for decades hence. He hit in the clutch. Not a natural athlete, the “Iron Horse” perfected, with relentless, punishing practice, his fielding at first base.

The son of German immigrants, he warned about the fascism coming out of Nazi Germany before most politicians.

Never a scandal, a paragon of self-control, he was my boyhood “role model” before those words came into currency. His character shone to the very end. Dying of what is now called Lou Gehrig’s disease, he was given a rousing day of gratitude and love at a packed Yankee Stadium. Only Lou, still in his 30s, would have thought to say to more than 60,000 tearing fans, “I’m the luckiest man on the face of the earth.”