In some circles, the fourth of July isn’t just a wonderful day to take in a baseball game, it’s a day to remember how the career of one of the game’s greats ended and a lesson about what matters in life.
New York Yankees first baseman Lou Gehrig stood on the field at Yankee Stadium and said farewell to the game and fans. Gehrig, baseball’s Iron Man until Cal Ripken Jr. came along, was suffering from amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (now known as Lou Gehrig’s disease) and could no longer play the game at the age of 36. Friday marks the 75th anniversary of the day on which he proclaimed himself “the luckiest man” and Major League Baseball Productions wonderfully recaptured it with a video in which the game’s present-day first basemen recite his speech. Fittingly, today’s Yankees captain makes a cameo in the video about that 1939 Yankees captain, who died two years after his farewell.
The video was shown Wednesday in Yankee Stadium and will be shown in all ballparks on Friday. You can watch it now at MLB.com, too.
There’s still no cure for the degenerative nerve disease, although there’s a renewed effort in the battle. Today, former New Orleans Saints player Steve Gleason, who has the disease, is helping lead the fight against the disease that has also stricken O.J. Brigance of the Baltimore Ravens. In addition to its video, MLB is donating $300,000 to organizations that fight ALS.