Sunday, July 05, 2009

Lou Gehrig's Farewell Speech...July 4th, 1939

The Boston Red Sox, seemingly lifeless, listless and lumberless, couldn't get the big hit and fell to the Seattle Mariners by a score of 3-2. Brad Penny again was the hard-luck loser and Boston will lose its first three game series in almost a month. Jon Lester will try to capture game three today at Fenway at 1:35pm EDT but right now I'd like to turn to an important piece of baseball history.

Yesterday, July 4th, 2009 marked the 70th anninversary of Lou Gehrig's farewell speech. He was suffering from ALS, now more commonly known as Lou Gehrig's disease, a debilitating malady, always fatal, that robs you of any muscle control and eventually will take away everything you need to live, your mind sound but your body worthless. May I suggest that you pick up a book about his life and his career. It's called THE LUCKIEST MAN. A better baseball book has NEVER been written...I know, I've read it twice. I cry every time, too. He spoke in front of a packed Yankee Stadium throng with many of his 1927 teammates tearfully watching. Here are his immortal words, words that will live forever, far longer than any of us...

"Fans, for the past two weeks you have been reading about the bad break I got. Yet today I consider myself the luckiest man on the face of this Earth. I have been in ballparks for 17 years and have never received anything but kindness and encouragement from you fans.

Look at these grand men. Which of you wouldn't consider it the highlight of his career just to associate with them for even one day? Sure, I'm lucky. Who wouldn't consider it an honor to have known Jacob Ruppert? Also, the builder of baseball's greatest empire, Ed Barrow? To have spent six years with that wonderful little fellow, Miller Huggins? Then to have spent the next nine years with that outstanding leader, that smart student of psychology, the best manager in baseball today, Joe McCarthy? Sure, I'm lucky.

When the New York Giants, a team you would give your right arm to beat, and vice versa, sends you a gift — that's something. When everybody down to the groundskeepers and those boys in white coats remember you with trophies — that's something. When you have a wonderful mother-in-law who takes sides with you in squabbles with her own daughter — that's something. When you have a father and a mother who work all their lives so you can have an education and build your body — it's a blessing. When you have a wife who has been a tower of strength and shown more courage than you dreamed existed — that's the finest I know.

So I close in saying that I may have had a tough break, but I have an awful lot to live for."

Lou Gehrig passed away not long after that impassioned speech...far too soon in an awful and unimaginable way. Please go to Amazon dot com or your local bookstore and pick up a copy of THE LUCKIEST MAN. You will never forget it. That's a promise, from me to you.

Enjoy the rest of your holiday weekend and as always, BE WELL.


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