On July 4, 1939, Lou Gehrig delivered his famed “Luckiest Man” speech in front of a sold-out crowd at Yankee Stadium.
For a few weeks leading up to this moment, Gehrig had begun to feel weak. To the point that he could no longer continue his “Iron Horse” record of consecutive games played. That streak ending at 2,130 games. The Yankees decided to honor Gehrig, and though a shy and humble man, eventually, he addressed the crowd.
Watch the emotional tribute to Gehrig and parts of the speech below:
Less than two years later, Gehrig died at the age of 37 but his speech is one that will live on forever.
Here is the full text of that speech:
“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 17 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 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 been given a bad break, but I’ve got an awful lot to live for.”
One of Gehrig’s most impressive seasons with the New York Yankees came in 1927 when he hit .373 with 47 home runs and 173 RBIs. Following that season, he was named the American League Most Valuable Player for the first time in his career.