Phi Delta Theta Weekend Celebrates Lou Gehrig, Award

By BRAD HORN

The story of Lou Gehrig’s incomparable character and courage displayed throughout his career and his life are as impressive as the numbers that led to a plaque in Cooperstown and a legacy of Hall of Fame greatness.

When he walked away from the game he so dearly loved on July 4, 1939, Gehrig left a lasting legacy for his Yankees teammates, baseball fans and for future generations who would always celebrate his unrelenting spirit.

The Lou Gehrig Memorial Award is presented annually by Phi Delta Theta International to a major league player who best exemplifies Gehrig's spirit and character, The Award Plaque is on display at the Baseball Hall of Fame in Cooperstown. (Milo Stewart Jr./National Baseball Hall of Fame Library)

Each year since 1955, Phi Delta Theta International, the fraternity Gehrig pledged while at Columbia University, has presented the Lou Gehrig Memorial Award to a major league player who best exemplifies the spirit and character of Lou, both on and off the field. Since its inception, the award plaque has been in Cooperstown, where it presently resides in the Library Atrium.

The Weekend of April 20-22 in Cooperstown was “Phi Delta Theta Weekend at the Hall of Fame,” as nearly a hundred members of the Phi Delta fraternity gathered to pay tribute to Gehrig, his legacy and the role the Hall of Fame has played in maintaining and conserving the award plaque since 1955.

“Lou Gehrig is someone we can all be proud of,” said Robert L. Miller, Historian for Phi Delta Theta and key contributor to the Phi Delta Theta event in Cooperstown during his visit to the Museum. “He’s one of ours, but he exemplifies character that everyone can salute and recognize as the elite and an American icon.”

Among the participants in Cooperstown during the weekend was Tennessee Supreme Court Justice Gary Wade, a tremendous baseball fan and part owner of the minor league Tennessee Smokies baseball club. For Wade, a visit to Cooperstown to salute Gehrig provided the optimal experience for a spring season getaway.

“The uniqueness of this honor for Phi Delta Theta to present the Lou Gehrig Award every year means that we are recognizing individuals who are not just good baseball players, but who are great humanitarians and exemplify the spirit of the Iron Horse,” Wade said. “Through this award, we hope that fans always remember the great character of Lou Gehrig.”

Brad Horn is the senior director of communications and education at the National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum

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