On this day, July 4th, in 1939, New York Yankee Lou Gehrig delivered his famous farwell speech at Yankee Stadium.
Other than his speech, Gehrig is best known for his consecutive game streak, spanning 2,130 games, broken in 1995 by Cal Ripken, Jr.
In 1939, Gehrig was diagnosed with a rare, degenerative disease called ALS, now known as Lou Gehrig's disease. On July 4th of that year, the Yankees had a recognition day for Gehrig, and in front of 62,000 fans at Yankee Stadium, he delivered one of the most famous speeches in American history.
Here is his full address on that day:
"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 this earth. I have been in ballparks for seventeen 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."
Click here to listen to his famous address Gehrig was elected to the Baseball Hall of Fame in December of 1939, but lost his battle with ALS on June 2, 1941.