Announced during the 4th game of the 2002 World Series, MasterCard, on behalf of Major League Baseball, revealed the most
memorable moments in baseball history as voted by the fans. The fifth most popular vote was for Lou Gehrig's retirement speech
given from home plate of Yankee Stadium on July 4, 1939.
The speech is one of the most cerished of the twentith century and was once dubbed "baseball's Gettysburg Address." The
most famous line from Gehrig's speech is "Today I consider myself the luckiest man on the face of the earth." This haunting
line struck chords with fans because of its sheer irony - Gehrig, at the time he said these words, was dying from a rare and
terminal illness few understood, amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), now known as Lou Gehrig's Disease. Though this line
came at the beginning of his speech, in the biographical feature film Pride of the Yankees, Gary Cooper (who played
Gehrig) recites the line at the very end of his mimick speech for the dramatic effect the line holds.
July 4, 1939, was Lou Gehrig Appreciation Day at Yankee Stadium. The ceremony was intended to be his farewell to baseball,
but he stayed in uniform until the end of the 1939 season.
On a related note, the number one Memorble Moment was the night Baltimore's Cal Ripken, Jr. broke Lou Gehrig's long-standing
consecutive games record (1995) by playing in his 2,131st consecutive game. In his speech to the packed Camden Yards stadium
that night, Ripken not only acknowledged "the courageous" Gehrig, but he also willingly stood by as the crowd began to chant,