Lou Gehrig Luckiest Man Speech1939
Lou Gehrig, Columbia ’25, the Iron Horse of baseball famed for his 2,130 consecutive games-played streaks, made one of the most memorable speeches in the annals of sports. Heartfelt and poignant, this man with less than two years to live shared his feelings to an enraptured audience that left tears rolling down the cheeks of all but a few.
On July 4, 1939, Lou Gehrig Appreciation Day, the longtime Yankee first baseman gave his famous luckiest man speech. The next day’s New York Times wrote, “the vast gathering, sitting in absolute silence for a longer period than perhaps any baseball crowd in history, heard Gehrig himself deliver as amazing a valedictory as ever came from a ball player.
‘For the past two weeks, you have been reading about a bad break. 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.
When you look around, wouldn’t you consider it a privilege to associate yourself with such fine-looking men as they’re standing in uniform in this ballpark today? 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. Thank you.’”