Lou Gehrig, the “Luckiest man on the face of the earth.”
In 1939, the Fourth of July coincided with Lou Gehrig Appreciation Day at Yankee Stadium. A day usually reserved for parades and fireworks was transformed into one of the most solemn, heart-wrenching, and inspiring moments in the history of sports. It was here, before 62,000 fans, that Gehrig proclaimed he was the “Luckiest man on the face of the earth.”
After a few games into the 1939 season, Gehrig’s performance had noticeably declined. On May 2, Gehrig took himself out of the lineup for the first time in 2,130 consecutive games. Unbeknownst to him, he would never play again.
Soon after Gehrig’s streak came to an end, he was diagnosed with amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), a neurodegenerative disease he is synonymous with to this day. After hearing the news, the Yankee clubhouse made arrangements to honor their longtime all-star.
On July 4, 1939, the Yankees played a double header against the Washington Senators. Between the two games, players, coaches, and other notable figures came out to shower Gehrig with gifts and kind words. The Yankees also began a new baseball tradition as they retired Gehrig’s number 4 uniform.
Gehrig almost did not speak. As the ceremony came to an end and the microphones were being hauled away, the “Iron Horse” decided to say a few words. As Gehrig fought away tears, he made one of the most iconic speeches of all time.
It seems appropriate that Lou Gehrig Appreciation Day fell on Independence Day. In his famous Declaration, Thomas Jefferson ascribed that “All men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty, and the pursuit of Happiness.” Despite his grim diagnosis and tragic decline, Gehrig embraced Jefferson’s unalienable rights. As he famously said, “I may have gotten a bad break, but I have an awful lot to live for.”
Watch the newsreel on the National Archives YouTube Channel, and read more about Gehrig’s iconic speech via Media Matters » “An Awful Lot to Live For”: Lou Gehrig’s Final Season in the News
Universal News Volume 11, Release 786, Story #5, July 5, 1939
Addie Joss*, the last pitcher to no-hit the same team twice. Joss threw 74 pitches in his October 1908 perfect game against the White Sox and then shut down the Sox again in April 1910.
Tim Lincecum threw two no-nos against the Padres in 347 days (July 13, 2013 and June 25, 2014)
* Joss died in April 1911 from meningitis and held a career record of 160-97 with a 1.89 ERA, second best ever behind “Big Ed” Walsh, 1.82. Joss holds the record for career WHIP, .97. The National Baseball Hall of Fame waived the ten playing seasons requirement for Joss in 1977 and he was elected to the Hall in 1978.
That’s it. That’s the list.
(Randy Johnson has one World Series ring with his multiple no-hitters and Cy Youngs.)
In honor of the 75th anniversary of Lou Gehrig’s “Luckiest Man” Speech all MLB teams will wear this patch. MLB will also promote ALS awareness heavily over the July 4th weekend.
Courtesy @sportslogosnet on twitter
"An artisan with a bat whose daily pursuit of excellence produced a .338 lifetime batting average, 3,141 hits and a National League record-tying eight batting titles. Consistency was his hallmark, hitting above .300 in 19 of 20 major league seasons, including .394 in 1994. Renowned for ability to hit to all fields, frequently collecting opposite-field base hits between third base and shortstop. Struck out just once every 21 at bats. A 15-time All-Star and five-time Gold Glove award winner. Hit .371 in two World Series - 1984 [lost to Tigers] and 1998 [lost to Yankees]."
Inducted in 2007 with 97.6% of the vote (532 of 545 ballots).
First, Maddux was convinced no hitter could tell the speed of a pitch with any meaningful accuracy. To demonstrate, he pointed at a road a quarter-mile away and said it was impossible to tell if a car was going 55, 65 or 75 mph unless there was another car nearby to offer a point of reference.
“You just can’t do it,” he said. Sometimes hitters can pick up differences in spin. They can identify pitches if there are different releases points or if a curveball starts with an upward hump as it leaves the pitcher’s hand. But if a pitcher can change speeds, every hitter is helpless, limited by human vision.
“Except,” Maddux said, “for that [expletive] Tony Gwynn.”
- Thomas Boswell, The Washington Post, January 7, 2014
The fedoras really complete the look.
They’re bowlers. Mistakes happen.
Baseball Prospectus has an amazing rundown of what went down 29 years ago today when Ferris Bueller took his day off and went to the Cubs game at Wrigley Field.
"What’s the score?"
"It’s tied, 0-0."
In other news, this marks the first time MLBO reblogs the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences.