Lou Gehrig's Brave Goodbye

October 26th, 2009

Fans at Yankee Stadium on July 4, 1939 did not come just to enjoy today's double header. Former Yankee Babe Ruth is here, but not to play baseball. Mayor Laguardia is in the huge crowd, but not for a public appearance. They are here to show appreciation to Lou Gehrig.

For 2,130 consecutive games Gehrig has given baseball his all. His hard work, loyalty, and determination are the reasons Lou is affectionately called 'Iron Horse'. Gehrig's .340 batting average and 493 home runs prove fans received tremendous thrills and excitement from Lou for seventeen years. Gehrig's decentcy has earned him the respect of all his teammates as well as members of the opposition. Even Yankee arch rivals, the New York Giants, think enough of Lou to honor him today.

It is between games and Gehrig is walking onto the field. The crowd notices with silent horror how his walk has changed. Gehrig does not have the strength and speed they remember. No one realized that the terrible disease (Amyotropic Lateral Sclerosis), this young man was recently diagnosed with , would start striking so cruelly fast. His energy and bright smile are already missed. Instead of walking to first base, his former home away from home, Lou walks up to the microphones behind home plate. The reception for Lou is warmer than the bright sun. Gehrig starts his speech by bravely considering himself "the luckiest man on the face of the earth" despite the "bad break" he got. (ALS is rare disease that destroys the nerves controlling muscles. It causes muscles to weaken and eventually waste away. It is fatal.) Lou's voice is emotional. The crowd is silent with sympathy. Gehrig continues his speech by thanking the fans for their encouragement and kindness over the years. He unselfishly acknowledges everyone from the Giants to his mother-in-law.

Gehrig is sincerely moved by all the thoughtful gifts and trophys he has received here today. He has to wipe his eyes. He closes his speech by stating, "I may have had a tough break, but I have an awful lot to live for." There is not a dry eye or lump free throat in Yankee Stadium.