Gaining Control

A few years ago, a commercial on television began with a black and white clip of Lou Gehrig being honored by Yankee fans on his last day of play. He stood, wobbly enough that Manager Joe McCarthy worried he might fall, in the summer heat between games of a doubleheader between the Yankees and Washington Senators.

Gehrig looked lonely, even desolate, a solo figure on the infield, surrounded by retired teammates from the 1927 Yankees and members of the current team who had carried on brilliantly without him. His career was shortened by a debilitating muscle disease that reduced his athletic frame to a none responsive mass a disease that eventually stopped his heart. 

What would you have said in the face of this heartbreaking challenge? Amazingly, he begins this way: Today I consider myself the luckiest man on the face of the earth.” How could he say that? It was his mindset. Gratitude for all the gifts he had been given, for all the love he had been shown by fans, for all the opportunities he had. He focused on God’s gifts, not the losses.

Much of the speech no longer exists as an intact recording; poor preservation of newsreels has left only four known surviving lines. Among those is the last line of the speech: “And I might have given a bad break but I’ve got an awful lot to live for.”

Lou Gehrig finally made it to the Yankees’ clubhouse that afternoon, drained and drenched with perspiration, having delivered a speech of such simple eloquence that it would one day be called baseball’s Gettysburg Address.

Lou had wept as he spoke — as did many of the nearly 62,000 other people in Yankee Stadium on that Fourth of July 80 years ago.

Back in the comfort of the clubhouse with teammates and friendly reporters around him, he asked, “Did my speech sound silly?” It was a humble man’s question with an easy answer: it did not.

×Note: To download, click the button. If it doesn't work, right click, then click "Save Link As." Download only works if media is stored within this site. Download Video
Download Audio
Back to top