Goldman: 75 years later, Ruth’s hug means almost as much as Gehrig’s speech

From SABR member Steven Goldman at SB Nation on July 8, 2014:

Lou Gehrig’s words, his grace in the face of invalidism or death, had resonated for exactly 75 years on July 4, but the moment that came before the last line, “I may have had a tough break, but I have an awful lot to live for. Thank you,” had echoed over the public address system and faded had great power as well. Looking back at the original coverage, it seems apparent that the writers in attendance thought Gehrig’s words would not have much importance or meaning. No two of them wrote them down in the same way, as if it was only after they had realized the resonance of what they had heard and were left scrambling to recall it correctly. However, they all made a point of getting one thing right, a moment of reconciliation and forgiveness between two old friends that could only have happened that day, for that reason.

When the anniversary of 1939’s “Lou Gehrig Appreciation Day” was observed by Major League Baseball as well as numerous commentators, the emphasis was, as it should have been, primarily on what Gehrig said — even if, due to the writers’ lack of fidelity, exactly what he said has been lost to time but for some fragmentary newsreels. Maybe what occurred between Babe Ruth and Lou Gehrig on that day has become just a detail instead of the focal point of the story because there’s nothing you can read, no recording you can hear, just a picture you can look at, and in this case the picture doesn’t tell the whole story. Yet, there are times when a simple embrace can be more eloquent than any arrangement of words.

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Originally published: July 8, 2014. Last Updated: July 8, 2014.