That was the last time America heard from Lou Gehrig. His address honoring Lou Gehrig on July 4, 1939, Yankee Stadium’s Lou Gehrig Appreciation Day, was one of the most moving pieces of spoken poetry we have ever heard. The 70th anniversary of Gehrig’s farewell speech will be recognized all around Major League Baseball on Saturday, July 4, 2009.

In an effort to combat the disease now generally referred to as Lou Gehrig’s disease, MLB has launched the “4ALS Awareness” campaign to generate funds for ALS research. During the seventh inning stretch at every MLB stadium, Gehrig’s speech will be read aloud, players will wear “4ALS” patches, and first bases will be auctioned off in his honor (Gehrig played first base).

Lou Gehrig Day Remembering the Iron Horse

In front of more than 60,000 people, Gehrig came up to the microphone in a loose uniform and barely spoke for 30 seconds. It takes politicians a long time to get their point over to the public. It took 30 seconds for Gehrig to finish.

The world could use a little bit of Lou Gehrig right about now, what with the economy tanking and all the associated heartbreak, stress, and general gloom. Sometimes it helps to be reminded that life is still worth living.

The blessing of Gehrig’s life was that it carried a message that could be understood by any suburban household. Here is everything you need to know about lou gehrig day remembering the iron horse. 

Contents

Gehrig Legacy One of Irony

Such irony! What stands out most about the man who was once dubbed “Gibraltar in cleats” by Los Angeles Times columnist Jim Murray? What’s more impressive: his 493 home runs, 1990 RBI,.340 batting average, American League record 184 RBI in a single season, or his 23 grand slams, which set a major league record?

Is it his 13 years in a row with at least 100 RBI and 100 runs scored, his seven years with at least 200 hits and 100 walks in a season, his two MVP awards, or his Triple Crown? Is it his 12 year hitting streak?

What about his slugging percentage of.632 for his career, his 300 home runs, his 10 seasons with at least 30 home runs, his 153 average RBI over a span of 11 years? No, it’s none of the above. No other feats Gehrig did while at bat stand out as vividly in the public mind as his streak. That was a speech that made us think of this humble yet noble man.

The irony! His eyes were fixed on the floor as he fought back tears and shook with emotion. At first, it appeared that Gehrig wouldn’t be able to reach the plate in time. A few words from Joe McCarthy, Gehrig’s favorite manager, helped him collect himself.

Hollywood’s “The Pride of the Yankees,” starring Gary Cooper, immortalized Gehrig’s tearful farewell message, in which he spoke slowly and sincerely thanked everyone involved.

Remembering the Iron Horse, Lou Gehrig

With summer quickly approaching, our focus returns to what has been America’s pastime for the better part of a century and a half. During these months, baseball is the only sport on the schedule, and everyone’s attention is focused only on it.

Our core beliefs as baseball fans remain unchanged; we’ve always wanted our team to win the World Series, and that hasn’t changed. What has evolved, however, is the way in which we express those beliefs.

For instance, modern fans have more resources at their disposal than those of any other era. It now takes a few seconds to find out practically whatever you want to know about a player thanks to the internet.

Fans of baseball will appreciate this as a wonderful present. Unfortunately, the allure of our favorite players and clubs has been sacrificed in the name of progress and ease of access. Miller Huggins, manager for the New York Yankees, happened to be strolling by at the perfect time.

Wally had been having a rough patch at the plate. Perhaps it was the constant pressure in one’s skull. It’s possible he was just another average ballplayer on the decline before retiring. However, Huggins congratulated his usually reliable first baseman and remarked, “Wally, today’s not your day. We’re going to put the kid to the test today and bring you back to work tomorrow.

Conclusion

Keep in mind that he was dubbed “The Iron Horse.” That’s a lot of patience to show for. It brings to mind a man who seemed invincible, having played in 2,130 consecutive games without missing a single one due to illness (as if we’d ever forget such a staggering feat).

On July 4, 1939, just over two months after his final game and less than a month after he was diagnosed with amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, Yankee Stadium held its annual Lou Gehrig Appreciation Day.

With his 1927 and 1939 Yankees colleagues at his side, Gehrig had his turn at the microphone. Hope now you know about lou gehrig day remembering the iron horse.