Thursday, July 3, 2014

Greatest Speech in Sports History

Today, of course, is the Fourth of July.  Most Americans will be celebrating USA's birthday with barbecues, fireworks and maybe even a trip to a ballgame.  As for baseball fans, today is also an anniversary of another special event.  Lou Gehrig's farewell speech.
Last year, on this day I gave you the actual speech.   This year I will with the help of ESPN's Keith Olbermann put the speech in some perspective.  Here is Olbermann's opening monologue from his show last night regarding Gehrig's Speech:

He puts in good perspective how young Gehrig was on that day and at his eventual passing.  I was thinking as I was listening to Olbermann, I bet if this horrible disease was obtained by another ball player besides Lou Gehrig it would be only referred to as ALS.  Even if the ball player was a fellow Hall of Famer of his era such as Hank Greenberg, Jimmie Foxx or Carl Hubbell.  But Gehrig was such an honorable man and revered by many, ALS is now known as Lou Gehrig's disease.  Yes, being a New York Yankee helps also.
As for the speech itself, Gehrig was intended to be honored between games of a doubleheader against the Washington Senators.  Gehrig initially did not want to say anything, but was urged to do so by the fans of New York and manager Joe McCarthy.   In his speech, Gehrig did not speak of his sickness or the end of his career,  but how fortunate he has been with the people he had around him throughout his life and career he did have.   For that, I believe why this speech still resonates 75 years later.  Being strong and positive as he faces death teaches all a lesson in how to carry ourselves to the end.  For that, Gehrig should be celebrated as much or even more than his Hall of Fame numbers and records.