Celebrating Lou Gehrig's Famous Speech 70 Years Later

Kevin RozellSenior Writer IJuly 5, 2009

NEW YORK - JULY 04: First base, dedicated to the disease Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS) often referred to as 'Lou Gehrig's Disease'  is seen prior to the game between the New York Yankees and the Toronto Blue Jays on July 4, 2009 at Yankee Stadium in the Bronx borough of New York City.  (Photo by Nick Laham/Getty Images)

(The Voice of Yankees Universe) http://nyyankeesrumors.com/celebrating-lou-gehrigs-famous-speech-70-years-later/

 Lou Gehrig delivered baseball’s Gettysburg address on July 4th, 1939. It was the most inspirational event to ever occur on a baseball diamond. He delivered words of courage in the face of death in front of 61,808 fans. He resembled everything that was right in the game…courage, good sportsmanship and humility. Gehrig’s legacy will never be forgotten.

Here is the full text speech:

“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 the earth. I have been in ballparks for seventeen 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 that 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 might have been given a bad break, but I’ve got an awful lot to live for. Thank you.”

 — Lou Gehrig at Yankee Stadium, July 4, 1939

The crowd stood and applauded for almost two minutes. Gehrig was visibly shaken as he stepped away from the microphone, and wiped the tears away from his face with his handkerchief.  Babe Ruth came over and hugged him as a band played “I Love You Truly” and the crowd chanted “We love you, Lou.” The New York Times account the following day called it “one of the most touching scenes ever witnessed on a ball field”, that made even hard-boiled reporters “swallow hard.”

I believe this is the best audio clip you can find of his speech.

Here are the Letters of Lou. It’s a very interesting special report that ESPN’s Outside the Lines did. You should definitely take a look. In his final days, as he battled ALS, Gehrigwrote his personal thoughts on a serie of revealing letters. About the letters…

The paper is fragile, the ink faded by time, but the words Lou Gehrig wrote 70 years ago, after being diagnosed with ALS, reveal a man with inner strength and a clear sense of purpose in his determination to find a cure for the disease.

His words are now enclosed in protective plastic sleeves in a blue binder to be preserved for as long as possible. But that doesn’t make their impact any less emotional.

Nearly every time collector James Ancel opens the binder and reads the correspondence between Gehrig and his doctor, the reaction is the same: tears.


70 years ago, Lou Gehrig showed the world strength in the face of death

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