When Lou Gehrig was diagnosed with his disease the world of baseball took a hit. His fans were devastated from the news of his illness and imminent demise. Lou Gehrig had been diagnosed with ALS, which is a nervous disease that affects muscle function, which had forced him to retire from baseball. Gehrig addresses his fans in July of 1939, two years before his death, to inform them of his situation. Though He knows that he will eventually face death at the hands of his illness, he does not convey that he is afraid. Although Gehrig has been diagnosed with a deadly illness, he does not tell his audience to have sympathy for him; instead he takes an opposite approach and tells his fans that he has been blessed and his very lucky for his success, accomplishments, and the opportunities that he had received through the people he has met and his family members.Figure 1: Lou Gehrig Farewell to Baseball Address. Photograph. ESPN the Magazine; Lou Gehrig; 4 July 1939; JPEG.
Gehrig abruptly addresses his audience by opening his speech with the word “Fans” after which he immediately states his thesis, “for the past two weeks you have been reading about a bad break I got.” He then continues with, “Yet today I consider myself the luckiest man on the face of the earth.” He continues throughout the speech discussing that he should not be sympathetic for him, but rather that he has lived a very blessed and privileged life, with many successes and accomplishments. He makes it clear in saying, “Look at these grand men” referring to the great people he has met due to his career, “Which of you wouldn’t consider it the highlight of his career just to associate with them for even one day?” After this he goes on to give several examples of the great people he has met in his life. He also discusses how he was privileged to have the family that he had. “A father and a mother who work all their lives so you can have an education and build your body” which gives his audience a clear example of the privileged upbringing he had.
Lou Gehrig was blessed with amazing ability and he shows his audience how lucky he was to have been blessed with such talents. Gehrig makes a compelling argument of how he as affected the world of baseball when he states, “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.” He shows with this that he is so well respected that he receives a gift of sympathy from his team’s greatest rivals. He then continues with, “When everybody down to the groundskeepers and those boys in white coats remember you with trophies -- that’s something.” This shows how he has been graced with many accolades for his accomplishments. He uses this to support his argument that he should not be sympathized for, but rather that he is thankful for all that he has been blessed with and how lucky he was for all of it.
In his address to his fans, he addresses his audience properly, using references that they could relate to and successfully connects with them on an emotional level to optimize the effectiveness of his speech; Lou Gehrig is very successful in showing how he is in his eyes, “the luckiest man on the face of the earth.”
Gehrig, Lou. “Lou Gehrig - Farewell to Baseball Address.” American Rhetoric. Michael E. Eidenmuller, 2010. Web. 5 Oct. 2010.
The ALS Association. “What Is ALS.” The ALS Association. The ALS Association, 2007. Web. 5 Oct. 2010.