NEW ROCHELLE, NY -- On this day, September 29, in 1933, New Rochelle resident and Yankee great Lou Gehrig married Eleanor Twitchell in their 5 Circuit Road apartment in New Rochelle. Why did the celebrity choose his apartment for the big day? This is one of New Rochelle best stories!
Although the rugged, handsome bachelor was one of the most eligible bachelors of the day, his mother, “Mom” Gehrig, held the apron strings tightly. When she wasn’t in the kitchen cooking-up fried chicken and pickled eels for her son and his teammates, she was with her son at batting practice, games at Yankee Stadium, spring training camp, or on road trips. She kept a tight control on who he could – or most of the time, couldn’t date.
In the ninth year of his career, at the age of 29, Gehrig fell head over heels for a young Chicago sophisticate, Eleanor Twitchell. That year, during the World Series against the Cubs, “Gehrig was a ball team by himself,” Fred Lieb wrote in Baseball as I Have Known It. “He had nine hits, including three home runs and a double. He scored nine runs and drove in eight. All Chicago, including Eleanor Twitchell, thrilled at this outstanding performance. The next thing we heard, Lou and Eleanor were engaged.”
“Mom” Gehrig was not happy. But, as Lou told Lieb, “She broke up some of my earlier romances and she isn’t going to break up this one.” Twitchell found an apartment at 5 Circuit Road, not far from the Gehrigs’ Meadow Lane home, and began planning her wedding – a small but “classy” affair that was to be held at the Long Island home of her aunt and uncle. The event was slated for the evening after the last game of the 1933 season, on September 29th.
On the day before the wedding, amid crates of furniture, the bride-to-be was unpacking moving boxes and supervising workmen at the Circuit Road apartment. “Suddenly, Lou came rushing in and tossed a bombshell in the middle of the mess,” she wrote in her autobiography. “. . . his mother had gone berserk . . . And this time, he didn’t fumble the ball. He picked up the phone, called the mayor of New Rochelle, and told him to bring a marriage license and make it fast.”
Mayor Walter C.G. Otto did, accompanied by the roar of motorcycles driven by New Rochelle’s finest. With plumbers, carpet-layers and cops watching “at strict military attention,” Otto “intoned the words that made this unlikely looking couple man and wife. One day early.” After a toast with tepid champagne, the newlyweds were escorted to Yankee Stadium by the motorcycle caravan. Gehrig announced the marriage to the press, donned his pinstripes and played an errorless game against the Washington Senators.