• By Dana Sparks

Sharing Mayo Clinic: Bob Tierney sharing the signed Lou Gehrig baseball

July 2, 2017

Bob Tierney holding the signed Lou Gehrig baseball
They called him the "iron horse" and the "pride of the Yankees." But when baseball great Lou Gehrig came to Mayo Clinic in June 1939, his name became associated with an illness called amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, or ALS. Today, ALS is often referred to as Lou Gehrig's disease.

Although he was a famous athlete, Gehrig developed a bond with Mayo Clinic that is similar to the experience of many people who turn to Mayo when they encounter troubling symptoms. In his biography, Luckiest Man: The Life and Death of Lou Gehrig, Jonathan Eig wrote:

Away from the big-city reporters and expectant teammates, away from his anxious wife and parents, he unwound completely. But it wasn't just the soft hum of small-town life that Gehrig found so pleasing. After weeks and months of uncertainty, after a period in which self-doubt had corroded his spirit like acid chewing through steel, he was at last getting answers. They were not the answers he wanted. But they were answers.

"He was the nicest guy I've ever run into. He'd stop and talk to every kid, especially baseball-playing age. He was real cordial." — Bob Tierney

During his weeklong evaluation under the direction of Paul O'Leary, M.D., and colleagues, Gehrig found ways to reach out. He gave informal baseball lessons and spent time with the teenage boys who played on the local American Legion team. One of them, Bob Tierney, became a special friend. Read the rest of the story.
This article originally appeared on the Sharing Mayo Clinic blog.