Wednesday, September 3, 2014

The Irony of the Iron Horse.

 An article I wrote in May from a historical aspect of the day the New York Yankees celebrated Lou Gehrig. 

July 4th is a day that we proud Americans celebrate with grandiose explosions of fireworks laced with unimaginable color as they bloom like a peony on a glorious summer’s afternoon. What better place to be on an Independence Day than on a field of America’s pastime, baseball’s green pastures. Yet on this year’s celebration the game of baseball was brimming with sadness as it bid farewell to one of its icons.

For Yankee fans and the community of baseball this July 4th started on May 2nd, although we didn’t know it at the time. It was on this date that Lou Gehrig sat in Joe McCarthy’s office and requested his presence be removed from the Yankee lineup that he was chiseled into for the previous 2,130 games. A true testament to his strength, to Lou being as strong as Iron and fit as a horse. He realized after the previous game that his talents were no longer unwavering when his fellow Pinstripe Compatriots congratulated him on a play made that use to be routine and merited no boost to his ego. So on May 2nd Gehrig shuffled out to the Umpires as the Captain normally would, and presented them with the lineup card that was lacking one of its most cherished friends for the first time in 14 years. Lou’s name on that lineup card would be nevermore.

In the oncoming weeks the Ironhorse, as we’ve come to know him, visited doctors with the knowledge that the previous diagnosis of a Gall Bladder problems couldn’t be correct and eventually found out that his statuesque frame was carrying around a disease many of us have not heard of: amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS). As the knowledge hit the baseball community that has come to adore him, a realization set in that no person is safe. If this disease can take down a giant such as Gehrig then anyone would be fair game to its wrath.

New York sportswriter, Paul Gallico, suggested a day of recognition to honor Gehrig on July 4th and set the wheels in motion to cement July 4th in baseball history lore. As Gehrig stepped to the microphone he sat in silence, humbled by the 60,000 plus in attendance. The cheers, the applause forced the giant to fight back tears. As he began to speak the silence of the crowd was deafening and tension hung over the stadium as family, friends, and fans eagerly listened to their hero. “For the past two weeks, you’ve been reading about a bad break.” Gehrig started. “Today, I consider myself, the luckiest man on the face of the earth” As the prowess of the words hit the fans they struck Gehrig with a brief applause before he continued with “that I might have been given a bad break, but I have an awful lot to live for, thank you”. The poise of Gehrig as he delivered his farewell to his fans ensured there was not a dry eye in the stadium. Fans and friends alike honored Gehrig with these tears in a show of support and appreciation of how much he has meant to so many over the past decade and a half. The game of baseball will surely be lacking without this hero playing his game on a daily basis.

-Lucas Jacobson
Full Sail University

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