Memorable sports moment of the week – Lou Gehrig passes away from ALS

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Lou Gehrig was great on the microphone and spectacular at the plate.

New York Yankees legend Lou Gehrig died 72 years ago this Sunday on June 2, 1941.

A member of the Major League Baseball All-Century Team, the 37-year-old Gehrig amassed 493 homers, 2,721 hits and 1,995 RBI in 2,164 games as a Yankee from 1923 through 1939.

During “Lou Gehrig Appreciation Day” at Yankee Stadium on July 4, 1939, “The Iron Horse” delivered perhaps the greatest speech in sports history less than two weeks after retiring from amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS).

“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 the 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 that 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. Thank you.”

Applauding a seven-time All-Star and two-time American League Most Valuable Player award winner, the touched crowd at East 161st and River Avenue in the Bronx paid homage to Gehrig for roughly two minutes.

Nearly three-quarters of a century later, it is still “a blessing” to write about Lou Gehrig.

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