1939 Gehrig ends streak On May 2, 1939, New York Yankees first baseman Lou Gehrig benches himself for poor play and ends his streak of consecutive games played at 2,130. “The Iron Horse” was suffering at the time from amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), now known as “Lou Gehrig’s Disease.” Henry Louis Gehrig was born June 19, 1903, in New York, New York, the only child of German immigrants to survive childhood illness. His doting parents were primarily interested in education, not sports, and he attended Columbia University on a football scholarship and studied engineering. After his freshman year, Gehrig played for New York Giants Manager John McGraw in a summer league under the name Henry Lewis; he lost a year of eligibility at Columbia when his ruse was discovered. Gehrig was then signed by a Yankee scout while playing first base at Columbia, much to the consternation of Giants fans who believed their skipper had let the talented slugger get away. Gehrig joined the Yankees in 1923, but he didn’t see any action until 1925, when he backed up star first baseman Wally Pipp. According to legend, Gehrig stepped in at first base when Pipp benched himself with a headache, and Pipp never made it back on to the field. Gehrig didn’t miss a game for the next 13 years. To this day, to be “Wally Pipped” is to be replaced for good. Gehrig’s offensive output was as extraordinary as his consecutive games streak. The left-handed slugger led the American League in RBIs five times, driving in at least 100 runs 13 years in a row. He led the AL in home runs three times, led in runs four times and led the league in hitting once. In the Yankees first golden era, Gehrig batted cleanup, right after Babe Ruth, the bigger star of the two. It was Gehrig, however, who was named American League MVP in 1927, on a Yankee team considered the greatest team in history; he won the award again in 1936, another championship year for the Yankees. In all, Gehrig won six World Series titles with the Yankees. Gehrig began to experience symptoms of ALS during the 1938 season, but doctors initially struggled to diagnose him. He played the first eight games of 1939, removing himself mid-game after being congratulated for a routine play at first base. He sat the next day, ending his streak at 2,130 games played. He never played again. On July 4, 1939, the Yankees held Lou Gehrig Day at Yankee Stadium. With over 60,000 fans in the stands and his former teammates there to honor him, Gehrig was overcome by emotion, and his legs shook from his developing paralysis. Gehrig stared hard at the ground, unable to speak, until his longtime manager Joe McCarthy and teammate Babe Ruth encouraged him. Then, in gratitude for his great career, and knowing he was dying from an unknown disease, he said: “Today, I consider myself the luckiest man on the face of the earth.” Lou Gehrig died on June 2, 1941, with his wife Eleanor by his side. 1808 Madrid revolts against French rule During the Peninsular War, a popular uprising against the French occupation of Spain begins in Madrid, culminating in a fierce battle fought out in the Puerta del Sol, Madrid’s central square. The Spanish rebels were defeated, and during the night the French army under Grand Duke Joachim Murat shot hundreds of citizens along the Prado promenade in reprisal. The gruesome events of the day were depicted by Spanish artist Francisco de Goya in two well-known prints. On February 16, 1808, under the pretext of sending reinforcements to the French army occupying Portugal, French Emperor Napoleon Bonaparteinvaded Spain. Thus began the Peninsular War, an important phase of the Napoleonic Wars fought between France and much of Europe between 1792 to 1815. During the first few weeks after their 1808 invasion of Spain, French forces captured Pamplona and Barcelona and on March 19 forced King Charles IV of Spain to abdicate. Four days later, the French entered Madrid under Joachim Murat. In early May, Madrid revolted, and on June 15 Napoleon’s brother, Joseph, was proclaimed the new king of Spain, leading to a general anti-French revolt across the Iberian Peninsula. In August, a British expeditionary force under Arthur Wellesley, later the Duke of Wellington, landed on the Portuguese coast to expel the French from the Iberian Peninsula. By mid 1809, the French were driven from Portugal, but Spain proved more elusive. Thus began a long series of seesaw campaigns between the French and British in Spain, where the British were aided by small bands of Spanish irregulars known as guerrillas. Finally, on June 21, 1813, allied forces under Wellesley routed the French forces of Joseph Bonaparte and Marshal Jean Jourdan at Vitoria, Spain. By October, the Iberian Peninsula was liberated, and Wellesley launched an invasion of France. The allies had penetrated France as far as Toulouse when news of Napoleon’s abdication reached them in April 1814, ending the Peninsular War. 1972 End of an era at the FBI After nearly five decades as director of the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), J. Edgar Hoover dies, leaving the powerful government agency without the administrator who had been largely responsible for its existence and shape. Educated as a lawyer and a librarian, Hoover joined the Department of Justice in 1917 and within two years had become special assistant to Attorney General A. Mitchell Palmer. Deeply anti-radical in his ideology, Hoover came to the forefront of federal law enforcement during the so-called “Red Scare” of 1919 to 1920. The former librarian set up a card index system listing every radical leader, organization, and publication in the United States and by 1921 had amassed some 450,000 files. More than 10,000 suspected communists were also arrested during this period, but the vast majority of these people were briefly questioned and then released. Although the attorney general was criticized for abusing his authority during the so-called “Palmer Raids,” Hoover emerged unscathed, and on May 10, 1924, he was appointed acting director of the Bureau of Investigation, a branch of the Justice Department established in 1909. During the 1920s, with Congress’ approval, Director Hoover drastically restructured and expanded the Bureau of Investigation. He built the corruption-ridden agency into an efficient crime-fighting machine, establishing a centralized fingerprint file, a crime laboratory, and a training school for agents. In the 1930s, the Bureau of Investigation launched a dramatic battle against the epidemic of organized crime brought on by Prohibition. Notorious gangsters such as George “Machine Gun” Kelly and John Dillinger met their ends looking down the barrels of Bureau-issued guns, while others, like Louis “Lepke” Buchalter, the elusive head of Murder, Incorporated, were successfully investigated and prosecuted by Hoover’s “G-men.” Hoover, who had a keen eye for public relations, participated in a number of these widely publicized arrests, and the Federal Bureau of Investigations, as it was known after 1935, became highly regarded by Congress and the American public. With the outbreak of World War II, Hoover revived the anti-espionage techniques he had developed during the first Red Scare, and domestic wiretaps and other electronic surveillance expanded dramatically. After World War II, Hoover focused on the threat of radical, especially communist, subversion. The FBI compiled files on millions of Americans suspected of dissident activity, and Hoover worked closely with the House Un-American Activities Committee (HUAC) and Senator Joseph McCarthy, the architect of America’s second Red Scare. In 1956, Hoover initiated Cointelpro, a secret counterintelligence program that initially targeted the U.S. Communist Party but later was expanded to infiltrate and disrupt any radical organization in America. During the 1960s, the immense resources of Cointelpro were used against dangerous groups such as the Ku Klux Klan, but also against African American civil rights organizations and liberal anti-war organizations. One figure especially targeted was civil rights leader Martin Luther King Jr., who endured systematic harassment from the FBI. By the time Hoover entered service under his eighth president in 1969, the media, the public, and Congress had grown suspicious that the FBI might be abusing its authority. For the first time in his bureaucratic career, Hoover endured widespread criticism, and Congress responded by passing laws requiring Senate confirmation of future FBI directors and limiting their tenure to 10 years. On May 2, 1972, with the Watergate affair about to explode onto the national stage, J. Edgar Hoover died of heart disease at the age of 77. The Watergate affair subsequently revealed that the FBI had illegally protected President Richard Nixon from investigation, and the agency was thoroughly investigated by Congress. Revelations of the FBI’s abuses of power and unconstitutional surveillance motivated Congress and the media to become more vigilant in future monitoring of the FBI.