“I Consider Myself The Luckiest Man On The Face Of The Earth”
Today’s special Independence Day Struming recognizes the 75th anniversary of the day at Yankee Stadium when Lou Gehrig was honored. Those famous words were said by Lou Gehrig at Yankee Stadium on July 4, 1939. Gehrig was suffering from a then little known disease, amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), which would take his life at age 37 less than 2 years later. Gehrig had pulled himself out of the Yankees line-up earlier that season on May 2 after a then-record 2,130 consecutive games played over his 14-year Yankees career. He would never play again. Alas 75 years later there is no known cure for ALS.
MLB players, managers, coaches and umpires will all wear a commemorative patch today recognizing the anniversary of Lou Gehrig Day and his famous speech. The tribute will include a video shown at all ballparks featuring a first baseman from each team reciting a line from Gehrig’s speech ending with the Yankees Derek Jeter.
“When Lou Gehrig delivered his historic farewell speech at Yankee Stadium 75 years ago, he indelibly linked our national pastime to the fight against the disease that would bear his name,” Commissioner Bud Selig said in a statement.
The Yankees had honored Lou Gehrig earlier this week on Wednesday July 2 and also gave their fans a bobblehead of Gehrig on that day as well. Yes, I was there. Great video tribute, alas lousy Yankees game.
An abbreviated version of Gehrig’s famous speech is as follows:
“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… 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.”
Gehrig is remembered every day through his name associated with ALS, now referred to as Lou Gehrig’s disease. He will be honored doubly today on the 75th Anniversary of his famous speech.
Lou Gehrig. A great Yankee. A gracious and great man.