“The luckiest man”
70 years ago, a dying Lou Gehrig stood on the field at Yankee Stadium and said goodbye to baseball, making what can only be considered the most memorable and greatest speech in the game’s history.
Today, this Fourth of July, every Major League team playing at home will conduct a special on-field ceremony to commemorate his farewell. The Yankees are hosting a special “4-ALS Awareness” ceremony on the field this afternoon at 1 p.m. and will recognize Michael Goldsmith, a lifelong baseball fan who contributed to the development of the “4-ALS” initiative.
In addition, to honor Gehrig, a “4-ALS” logo will appear on top of first base in every ballpark around the Majors. All on-field personnel will wear a patch honoring the initiative, and Yankees players will help recreate Gehrig’s speech in a video tribute.
There is a great display inside Gate 4 at the Stadium which has a large photograph of Gehrig speaking on July 4, 1939, accompanied by a continuous loop of the audio. Today would be a great day to stop in and check it out if you’re headed here.
“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 tough break, but I have an awful lot to live for.”