There is a misconception that a great hitter is born, that he somehow emerges as a genetic marvel intact from the womb and is blessed with insurmountable talent and priceless, unmatchable gifts such that he does not have to practice. At best, this is a partial truth for a very precious few. A majority of the time, becoming a great hitter is a maturation process that takes year upon year of dedicated practice.
Lou Gehrig was a husky, strong young man who loved both baseball and football. He had some talent, due to his size and power, but in many respects he was awkward, clumsy, and ill-at-ease. Nothing about the game of baseball came easy to the young Gehrig. He practiced day after day and hour upon hour at the basics, including hitting. When he made contact, the ball went far. Too often, however, he swung and missed due to his stilted, disjointed, unnatural swing. Success or failure, Gehrig practiced and drilled and continued to improve.
Even when he made the big-league roster he was far from the essence of grace. Throughout his career he struggled with, and had to work harder than most at, the simple things such as swinging, throwing, and catching. He never looked pretty or textbook, but his effort and persistence paid off. He became a legend and was one of the greatest hitters in history. He often spoke to young ballplayers and urged them to persevere and continue their quest to improve. If a Hall of Famer had to practice every day of his career, why should there be any exceptions?