75 years ago today, baseball’s Iron Horse, Lou Gehrig, lost his battle with ALS at the all-too-young age of 37.
Widely regarded as one of the true good guys of baseball, Gehrig had a brilliant 17-year career, all with the Yankees, in which he was an integral part of an unprecedented eight World Series championship teams.
Upon retiring from baseball and being inducted to the Hall of Fame in 1939 as one of the greatest of all time, his records still sit among the highest in history, even after 3/4 of a century since his passing. As of today, Gehrig still remains:
14th in batting average (.340)
11th in runs scored (1,888)
5th in runs batted in (1,995)
28th in home runs (493)
At the end of a stellar career in which he was a two-time MVP and also batted a career .361 in postseason play, Gehrig delivered, on July 4, 1939, perhaps the most famous speech in the history of the game:
“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. 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.”
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