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The Luckiest Man on the Face of the Earth

courage purpose speech
Lou Gehrig in Yankee Stadium delivering his farewell to baseball.

 

By John Millen

Lou Gehrig was a famous New York Yankees baseball player. His prodigious batting and durability earned him the nick name, The Iron Horse.

But his name is likely most familiar today because he was struck with amyotrophic later sclerosis (ALS), known as Lou Gehrig disease.

This horrible affliction forced Gehrig’s retirement at age 36. He faced a brutal decline before his death two years later.

On July 4, 1939, Gehrig gave his famous farewell speech, which has been called “baseball’s Gettysburg Address.”

In the face of Gehrig's personal terror, this is one of the greatest expressions of gratitude I’ve ever heard.

I share it as a reminder that through this pandemic, with the disruption and suffering for so many, all we have is our response to the events of life.

And gratitude is the response that will best give each of us light and hope for the future. Here is Gehrig’s talk to fans at Yankee Stadium.

 

Lou Gehrig’s Farewell to Baseball

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 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 the next nine 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 might have had a tough break – but I have an awful lot to live for!

 

In this holiday season, we can regret our losses, but let’s also be grateful for our many blessings.

Wishing safe and happy holidays to you and yours,

John

 

 

 

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