Movie Poster For "The Pride of the Yankees" starring Gary Cooper Image via Wikipedia
The Pride of the Yankees is a 1942 biographical film directed by Sam Wood about the New York Yankees baseball player, first baseman Lou Gehrig, who had his career cut short at 37 years of age when he was stricken with the fatal disease amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (later to become known as "Lou Gehrig's Disease"). The movie was released the year after Gehrig's death. It stars Gary Cooper as Gehrig and co-stars Teresa Wright as his wife Eleanor and Walter Brennan as a sportswriter friend. Yankee teammates Babe Ruth, Bob Meusel, Mark Koenig and Bill Dickey play themselves, as does sportscaster Bill Stern. The movie was adapted by Herman J. Mankiewicz, Jo Swerling, and an uncredited Casey Robinson from a story by Paul Gallico. The film includes a re-enactment of Gehrig's farewell speech in Yankee Stadium. The famous line "Today, I consider myself the luckiest man on the face of the earth" was voted #38 in the American Film Institute (AFI) list of the 100 greatest movie quotes of all time.
In Gehrig's actual speech on July 4, 1939, the line "Today, I consider myself the luckiest man on the face of the earth" was actually at the beginning of the speech but was moved to the end of the speech in the movie.
Here is the text of the actual speech given that day by Gehrig:
- Fans, for the past two weeks you have been reading about a bad break. 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 Barow? 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.