What did Lou Gehrig do after ending his baseball career and giving the most famous speech in sports history?
He went fishing on the Yankees’ first off day.
Following five straight losses to the Boston Red Sox from July 7 to 9, Lou, his wife Eleanor, Winifred Taylor (Eleanor’s aunt), and his longtime fishing buddy Fred Fletcher left New York City for Brielle, New Jersey early on the morning of July 10. By 6:10 a.m. they were aboard the Jean Dare, skippered by Captain Earl Dare, and leaving the Brielle Yacht Basin in search of tuna.
Upon entering the ocean, everyone grabbed sweaters and coats to keep warm, the temperature having plummeted nearly twenty degrees since leaving the shoreline. After everyone had warmed up again, Captain Dare tossed their lures into the water and headed east. About eighteen miles into the Atlantic, they all watched a school of flying fish which Captain Dare said indicated the presence of white marlin. They all grew excited when Eleanor yelled “Strike!” but it proved to be only a two and one-half pound bluefish.
Setting a course to the southeast, the Jean Dare was soon among other boats clustered about thirty-five miles off shore where competing fishermen began to haul in large tuna. Lou, being impatient to join the fun but feeling somewhat mischievous, suckered Captain Dare into wagering his boat that they would begin to haul in their own tuna. The captain, now intent on saving his boat, changed course again to a north by west heading when about fifty miles at sea. Everyone was sitting around snacking on lunch when the shout went up “Strike!”
Lou grabbed his rod and after a long and tough fight brought to the boat a tuna estimated at sixty-five pounds which Captain Dare expertly gaffed and brought aboard. Lou called his fish “a beauty” and wrote that he then knew why tuna were called “the high-powered torpedoes of the deep.” The Gehrig party continued to fish all afternoon, but with no additional luck. During their return to Brielle, Lou composed a report of their day’s adventure which appeared in the Daily News of July 11, accompanied by two photos, one of Lou and Eleanor chatting while waiting for a strike and the other showing Lou proudly patting his tuna torpedo while Captain Dare holds the fish up for inspection. Lou ended his review by saying, “The day was beautiful, the boat ideal, the company most pleasant, but the fish reticent.” Spoken like a true fisherman.
It was just the diversion that Lou needed to take his mind off of baseball and his declining health.