July 4, 1939 was Lou Gehrig Appreciation Day at Yankee Stadium.
The day was slotted as a double-header between the Yankees and the Washington Senators. In between the two games, the Yankees and all of baseball would honor Lou and his soon-to-be Hall of Fame career.
Several people gave speeches and Gehrig received gifts from everyone, including the visiting Washington Senators.
It was what Lou said when given the microphone, though, that goes down in history as not only the most famous sports-related speech in history, but one of the most famous speeches ever.
Courtesy of the Official Lou Gehrig website, here's the text version of his speech (you can listen to the audio on that site as well).
"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 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 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 bad break, but I have an awful lot to live for."
Lou Gehrig would get inducted into the Hall of Fame in December 1939 (they waived the waiting period) and would pass away on June 2, 1941 (16 years to the day that he replaced Wally Pipp and began his consecutive games played streak).