Lou Gehrig, “the Iron Horse”

Today is the birthday of Lou Gehrig.  Some of my readers will raise one eyebrow, give a grimace, and say, “So. . . “

Not me.  I remember going to the movie house with my parents to see the movie, “The Pride of the Yankees.” Both of my parents loved the game of baseball.  My maternal grandfather longed to play professional baseball and family lore has it that he actually tried out for the now infamous Chicago Black Stockings.

Today the facebook page of my local, public library asked its trivia question on who was born June 19, 1903.  Someone answered it, so I asked a further challenge which no one has answered (yet):  What was his nickname, and why?  He was called, “The Iron Horse” because he played in 2,130 consecutive games.  It was not until 1995 that Cal Ripken finally broke the record.

The Iron Horse did not make it past a disease now named after him, a disease that debilitates the nervous system, and abbreviated ALS.  In 1939, on July Fourth, he made the following farewell speech and I put it out there for you folks who may need the encouragement of coping with something difficult right now.  Hear the words of Lou Gehrig:

“Fans, for the past two weeks you have been reading about a bad break I got. Yet today, I consider myself the luckiest man on the face of the earth.

“I have been in ballparks for 17 years, and I 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 have considered it an honor to have known Jacob Ruppert; also, the builder of baseball’s greatest empire, Ed Barrows; 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 against her own daughter, that’s something. When you have a father and 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 may have had a tough break, but I have an awful lot to live for. Thank You.”

I do not know if Gehrig was a believing Christian, so I say to you who need encouragement to go on, remember the words in Philippians 4:13, “I can do all things through Christ which strengthenth me.”

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2 Comments

  1. Glenda

    WOW!!! I think that’s the first time I have seen this speech in its entirety. He was indeed quite a man, and I surely do hope he was a believer in Christ, because I would be honored to shake his hand in Heaven. At this time, there is a pro football player also battling this disease. Steve Gleason (I think his first name is Steve) is the relative of a FB friend, Jackie Kaminski Gleason, who is an active participant in many of the fundraisers that have been held for this man, who plays for the New Orleans Saints. Jackie is a school teacher in Spokane, WA, and is very active in many athletic events. You may wish to send her a friend invitation in order to keep up with his progress. Anyway, thank you for bringing Lou Gehrig’s speech to our attention. I may paste it into something and use it sometime, if that’s all right with you.

    Yes, as children of the living God, we must focus on our abilities, rather than our limitations!

  2. I believe it must be public domain. I found it on a favorite site of mine, “Baseball Hall of Faime.” It is a dream that someday I might be able to visit Cooperstown. The movie did not do justice to the speech, as they “hashed” it. What I printed it Gehrig’s actual speech. A local woman here, mother of one of my neighbor’s died of ALS last year. It was a difficult thing for the family.

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