A Fond Farewell to The Bleacher Report Community

Zander FreundSenior Writer IDecember 17, 2009

On April 30, 1939, Yankee immortal Lou Gehrig played his final baseball game.  

In 17 years of professional competition, Gehrig belted 493 home runs, drove in 1995 of his Yankee teammates, and posted a .340 career batting average.  He led the league in RBIs on five occasions, runs scored on four, and home runs thrice.  He won two MVP awards in 1927 and 1936, and hit for the Triple Crown in 1934.  

These accolades would earn him a place in the Hall of Fame just months after he retired, as the sports writers of America broke with the traditional waiting period in order to honor the legendary first baseman while he was still alive. 

Gehrig however will be best remembered for his consecutive games played streak, setting the bar at a seemingly insurmountable 2130 games.  His ability to show up to work every day without fail earned him the nickname “The Iron Horse.” It would take the diagnosis of a rare, fatal disease to finally remove him from the lineup in the spring of 1939.

The Iron Horse was not quite done with the baseball world after retiring from the game.  On July 4, 1939, he visited Yankee stadium for a final time to give one of the most famous speeches in the history of sports.  Despite the tragic conditions that would take one of the world’s greatest athletes from us at the young age of 37, Gehrig proudly stood up in front of 65,000 fans and said that he considered himself “the luckiest man on the face of the earth."

The circumstances behind Gehrig’s retirement from professional baseball and me stepping down as Bleacher Report’s Community GM could not be more different. Most obviously, the history books will not remember me the way they will rightfully celebrate Gehrig’s legacy.   

More importantly, Gehrig’s retirement and premature death was truly heartbreaking; my departure on the other hand could not be more heartwarming.   

I thus am referencing Gehrig’s speech in my farewell Bleacher Report article for one reason and one reason alone: In leaving my post as the website’s Community GM, I, like Gehrig, consider myself the luckiest man on the face of the earth.

Bleacher Report began as a hope and dream shared by a small group of friends. It has since become one of the largest sports communities on the web, continuing to grow and evolve at a rapid pace. The relevancy of the opinions and perspectives shared on this site continues to be validated by Bleacher Report’s rapidly growing audience and syndication partners like CBS Sports, Sports Illustrated, USA Today, Scout, The Los Angeles Times, The Chicago Tribune, and the U.K.’s Telegraph.  

Over the past four years, I have had the honor of working alongside some of the world’s most exceptional web engineers, product specialists, and editorial masterminds—and serving a community of passionate, eloquent, and amazingly talented sports fans and writers, who care as much for the well-being of their fellow Bleacher Creatures as they do for the exposure their own work receives.

Together, we have completely transformed the world of sports journalism.  And that, in Lou Gehrig’s words, is the finest I know.  

There are a lot of things I've always wanted to do with my career—one of which was to start a sports website. But there are others, too, and through some deep reflection over the past few months I’ve concluded that the time has come to shift gears. 

I pass the torch with 110 percent confidence in our current team and community; this is only the beginning for Bleacher Report. The dream is bigger than any individual writer, founder, or employee. The show must go on, and I could not be more excited about what the future holds.

As I bid farewell, I’d like to recognize each and every Bleacher Creature for making this website what it is today. I’m hesitant to name individuals in fear of accidentally omitting those who have made essential contributions, so I’ll leave you all instead with this: Thank you from the bottom of my heart for giving me this opportunity. 

In serving as the site’s Community GM, I have been blessed with a day job that anyone would kill to have.  I am forever grateful for your efforts in fostering and sustaining a culture at Bleacher Report that, in addition to being highly intellectually and editorially stimulating, is filled with so much camaraderie and positivity.  Such a culture is incredibly unique amongst websites this large, and continues to exist because of your tireless efforts.

This colossus of a sports network that we have built together is just beginning to flourish.  The sky is the limit for Bleacher Report, and I encourage those of you who haven’t yet taken full advantage of the network’s offerings to find your niche within the community.

Today, Bleacher Report is the biggest and best fan-powered sports network on the web.  Tomorrow, we could be the world’s dominant provider for sports coverage of any sort.  It all depends on you.  

Your contributions have created this destination for the truest of sports fans…

…and your contributions can take it to the next level.

Once again, it’s been a sincere pleasure serving each and every one of you.  As an Adviser to the company, I will continue to do everything I can to help Bleacher Report succeed.

I now sit amongst you, the finest sports minds of the world, in our view from the bleachers. These are seats that throughout our lifetimes, we have learned to consider home. I can’t think of a more fitting end to my journey than to be back here with all of you once again.   

May the success we have shared in together continue.  Let’s keep rockin’ and rollin’.