“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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Published: November 22, 2013

7 Responses to ““The Luckiest Man on the Face of the Earth””

  1. I've admired and respected Bob Bly for more than 25 years. Besides being an outstanding writer, he's a exceptional person. He shares information and insight freely to help others further their dreams - much of this is free. His paid products are fairly priced. He personally answers emails. He's not hesitant to share personal insight if he believes it would be helpful to others. I've never met him in person, but hope to some day.

    Guest (Linda Byam)November 22, 2013 at 2:17 pm

  2. Suze Orman is one of my role models. She is a strong, confident, and compassionate woman who had the strength and courage to do something big with her life. Despite diagnosed learning disabilities and other struggles in her younger years, she has become one of the smartest women in finance today. Suze has taken that knowledge and not only improved her own life, she shares her knowledge by educating the millions of Americans who so desperately need it. Thank you, Suze Orman, for being the amazing leader you are!

    Guest (Jocelyn Smokes)November 22, 2013 at 2:17 pm

  3. My role model is myself because I am a survivor of a multitude of life's adversities. I am a hardworking, caring, loving, and spiritually blessed person who knows the path I am on. Of course, I have learned from many along my path of life, which has given me the tools to progress to the next level. And least not I mention, that because of God and my angels, I am thankful for the journey and the opportunities that lie ahead--And maybe even bring me to another role model.

    Laura S November 22, 2013 at 2:35 pm

  4. Thanks for a wonderful post, John! I couldn't believe you were writing about Gehrig, and I didn't know about his work and influence outside of baseball. If anyone is interested in his life (albeit Hollywood style, but credible and great), take a look at "Pride of the Yankees" with Gary Cooper as Gehrig. A wonderful, poignant telling of his story, including his speech that day.

    Meantime, I'll be thinking about any writing role models for me cut from the same cloth!
    Thanks for the thought!

    AnneKNovember 22, 2013 at 3:06 pm

  5. There are a lot of "heroes" I would emulate but one that speaks to me personally is Tom Brady…Not today's Tom Brady…Mega star one of the best ever, future hall of famer…I could go on and on but Tom Brady that got picked almost dead last…who never had a head coach that believed in him. Who nobody wanted…His drive for perfection and his total confidence in his ability to always get better make him someone I want to be like.

    Guest (brett)November 22, 2013 at 4:28 pm

  6. having been a voracious reader all my life and naturally drawn to self-help materials and relating to and helping people, My favorite author is OG Mandino. His trilogy "The Greatest Salesman; The Greatest Secret; and The Greatest Miracle - In The World" have helped me pull myself up from the catastrophic failures I suddenly stumbled into by the choices I have made when experiencing some success. When I started writing a book "30 Days to a Successful You" I sent a copy to OG of the first chapter that had been read and recorded by Author Pendragon of the "Doors". OG was polite enough to write back and assure me I had talent and just needed to "Write, Write, Write!" I allowed life to prevent completion of the book. Others seized on the idea and made big money. The same happened to completing my "Accelerated Copywriting Course", which I have been attempting to complete for six years now! I know I can do it! It is just a matter of clearing

    Guest (Chad Bettis)November 23, 2013 at 4:37 am

  7. PLEASE NOTE: The following is something I recently wrote about MY MOST important Role Model. Thank you for this opportunity to share it with you. She lived in Hawaii for many years.


    This weekend I lost someone very, very special in my life. I am writing this to remind everyone about the importance of friends.

    She came into my life at exactly the right time when I needed someone to encourage me, validate me, and give me some hope.

    She was a Handwriting Expert. I didn't yet know her very well, and she didn't know me at all, so I chose her to analyze my handwriting. Her analysis changed my life in such a profound way that I went ahead and studied to become a Certified Handwriting Expert myself.

    I felt that if her analysis could change my life so dramatically, I could do that for others too, and I believe I have. She was my motivation.

    Most of all, she was a beloved friend to me. We laughed and giggled (sometimes u

    Guest (Ruthie Chong)November 24, 2013 at 3:53 am

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