Lou Gehrig’s storied career unfortunately came to an end 75 years ago Friday. The Iron Horse made famous for his then record 2,130 consecutive games played stood until Cal Ripken, Jr. broke it in 1995.
The guy was a living legend during his time and only Babe Ruth surpassed him in terms of popularity on Murderer’s Row.
He suffered from amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, now more commonly known as Lou Gehrig’s Disease, which forced him to retire prematurely at 36. The disease claimed his life two years later.
Gehrig is probably most remembered for his farewell speech to Yankee Stadium. It brought people to tears and famous players and celebrities from the era made sure to attend that day to pay their respects. The speech is generally considered one of the best of the 20th Century and can still bring a tear to anybody’s eye.
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 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 might have been given a bad break, but I’ve got an awful lot to live for.
Check out this old newsreel on The Iron Horse in celebration of the 75th anniversary.