80th anniversary of Lou Gehrig’s farewell speech

July 4th, 2019, marks the 80th anniversary of New York Yankee Lou Gehrig’s famous farewell speech. Despite decades of research, ALS remains a devastating diagnosis. As the search for a cure and support for families continue, we remain inspired by Gehrig’s bravery, and the words from his historic 1939 speech.

Lou Gehrig’s diagnosis was made public on June 19, 1939, two days before he announced his retirement. No one remained unmoved by the news. On July 4th, 1939, in front of 61,808 people including many dignitaries and sports celebrities, Gehrig’s voice sounded strained as he spoke the following words:

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 that you can have an education and build your body—it’s a blessing. When you have a wife who has been a 3 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.

Roxanne Goulet