Monday, September 19, 2016

Dr. Faulkner: Lucky

Most of us know of Lou Gehrig because of the disease that bears his name.  The disease is more accurately know as Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS).  It is a fatal neuromuscular disease that causes muscle weakness leading to paralysis.

Gehrig was a star baseball player with the New York Yankees playing alongside greats like Babe Ruth and Joe DiMaggio.  He had a long an illustrious career winning many accolades and setting multiple records.  He held the record for most consecutive games played (2,130) until it was broken by Cal Ripkin Jr.  in 1995.  His playing streak came to an end in May of 1939.  Shortly after his last game, he was diagnosed with ALS.

Many know Lou Gehrig for the speech he delivered in July, 1939 when, in spite of ALS, he declared himself the “luckiest man on the face of the earth.”  But few know the full text of the speech and why Gehrig felt himself lucky even in the face of a fatal disease.  In short, Gehrig felt himself lucky not because of the fame and relative wealth that had come his way, but because of the people in his life.

Here is the full text of Gehrig’s speech taken from the Lou Gehrig web page.  

"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."

- Lou Gehrig


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