“The Luckiest Man on the Face of the Earth”
He described himself as a somewhat inarticulate introvert.
And he was a little nervous about delivering his short speech in front of 62,000 people the next day at Yankee Stadium.
July 4, 1939. As the time for him to deliver his speech approached, he asked the emcee of the event, Sid Mercer, to say a few words on his behalf instead. But the crowd was having none of it.
“We want Gehrig,” they chanted.
Lou reluctantly approached the microphone.
He proceeded to deliver what’s been called, “The Gettysburg Address of Baseball …”
“For the past two weeks you have been reading about a bad break I got. Yet today I consider myself the luckiest man on the face of the earth.”
He then paid tribute to his fans, his parents, wife and teammates, and closed by saying …
“I might have been given a bad break, but I have an awful lot to live for. Thank you.”
The crowd cheered wildly.
Lou Gehrig still felt “lucky,” despite the fact that two months earlier, on May 2nd, due to a rapid decline in his physical capabilities, Gehrig had asked his manager to take him out of the line-up — snapping his 2,130 consecutive game streak. And on June 19th, his 36th birthday, Gehrig had been told he had less than three years to live.
The New York Yankees had announced Gehrig’s retirement and proclaimed July 4, 1939, “Lou Gehrig Appreciation Day” at Yankee Stadium.
A few months later, New York’s mayor, Fiorello La Guardia, asked Gehrig to join the New York City Parole Commission.
Gehrig had already rejected other job offers — including lucrative speaking and guest appearance opportunities. Gehrig accepted La Guardia’s offer, as both he and his wife thought it would be a good way for him to contribute to the public good.
During his brief term, Gehrig had almost daily contact with street criminals, hoodlums, vagabonds, pimps, prostitutes, and con artists. Encouraging them to believe there was a better way to live their lives.
One of the people he helped was future World Boxing Champion and Hall of Fame Boxer Rocky Graziano.
When asked later in his career about Gehrig, Graziano said, “[I] probably should shake Gehrig’s hand for straightening me out. But it was too late. I found out he was dead.”
Gehrig was only physically able to work until early May of 1941. On June 2, 1941, the man they nicknamed “The Iron Horse” succumbed to Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS), the disease that was to adopt his name. He was 37 years old.
In today’s world of tarnished heroes, athletes who think the rules don’t apply to them, and celebrities who justify their bad behavior by saying, “I never asked to be a role model,” Lou Gehrig will always stand tall.
Gehrig had a great attitude and a wonderful spirit. He was eternally optimistic, and he never felt sorry for himself. He lived his entire life with class and dignity.
Do you have a role model for your writing career? If not, here are four tips on finding the right one. Look for someone who …
- Is living life the way you would like to. If you want to be a magician, model yourself after a famous magician. If you want to be a six-figure copywriter, model yourself after an ultra-successful copywriter.
- Has the characteristics that you want to emulate. Find someone you admire and who displays the same qualities you want to be known for.
- Lives their life with a sense of purpose. Look for someone who knows who they are and what they want to accomplish in life.
- Is confident, not boastful. Does the person tell everyone how great they are, or do they leave that for others?
And remember, nobody’s perfect. So focus on what’s good in someone and don’t emulate the bad.
Who are your role models? Share your comments here.
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