Aardvark Alley

Lutheran Aardvark

Confessional Lutheran theology, hagiography, philosophy, music, culture, sports, education, and whatever else is on the fevered mind of Orycteropus Afer

28 July 2005
  Pride of the Yankees?
Pride of the Lutherans!

As you may have noticed, I have the daily snippet from Old Lutheran in the sidebar. Today's blurb caught my special attention, seeing as it was about one of my all-time favorite ball players:

Lou Gehrig (1903 - 1941) Famed baseball player whose life was cut short by the disease that now bears his name. He was raised in a very devout Lutheran household. Reportedly, Gehrig was once asked by a New York City reporter if he was Jewish — Gehrig proudly replied that he was a Lutheran!.

Ludwig Heinrich (later Henry Louis) Gehrig, already nationally famous because of his stellar play with the New York Yankees, became an athletic immortal for two reasons: First, he established a 2,130 consecutive games played record that lasted 56 years, until Cal Ripkin, Jr. (no stranger to hard work and dedication himself) played in his 2,131st game on 6 September 1995. While Ripkin pushed the mark to an astounding 2632 games, we'll always be left wondering what if Lou wasn't also remembered for a second reason — amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) — would he still hold the record?

Now we face the ugly irony that Lou is more remembered for an affliction that often bears his name — Lou Gehrig's Disease — than for either his baseball exploits or the fulness of his life.

To find out more, I suggest the 1996 German-American Day Essay Contest winner, written by high school student Shelley McDonald and the well-linked and annotated article at Wikipedia. To get to the heart of the man, however, you can merely read and ponder his farewell address on "Lou Gehrig Day," 4 July 1939:

Fans, 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. I have been to ballparks for seventeen years and I 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 have considered 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 the white coats remember you with trophies, that’s something. When you have a father and mother who work all their lives so that you can have an education and build your body, its 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 by saying that I might have had a bad break, but I have an awful lot to live for.

I consider myself the luckiest man on the face of the earth.
 
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