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The Pride of the Yankees (1942)

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Though not word-for-word the speech actually made by Lou Gehrig on Lou Gehrig Appreciation Day at Yankee Stadium on July 4, 1939, the "Luckiest Man" speech from THE PRIDE OF THE YANKEES became a Gary Cooper trademark, and during World War II he would occasionally deliver it when he was on tour entertaining service men.  Below are transcripts of both the 'Luckiest Man' Speech from the film and the actual speech Gehrig gave in 1939.

The 'Luckiest Man' Speech

I have been walking on ball fields for sixteen years, and I have never received anything but kindness and encouragement from you fans.

I have had the great honor to have played with these great veteran ball players on my left -- Murders' Row, our championship team of 1927. I have had the further honor of living and playing with these men on my right -- the Bronx Bombers, the Yankees of today.

I have been given fame and undeserved praise by the boys up there behind the wire in the press box -- my friends the sportswriters.

I have worked under the two greatest managers of all times, Miller Huggins and Joe McCarthy.

I have a mother and father who fought to give me health and a solid background in my youth.

I have a wife, a companion for life, who has shown me more courage than I ever knew.

People all say that I've had a bad break, but today... today, I consider myself the luckiest man on the face of the earth.

The Actual Speech

Compare the above Hollywood-doctored speech to the original below.  The fact that filmmakers dared to rework what had become one of the most memorable speeches in recent history offended some die-hard Gehrig fans at the time THE PRIDE OF THE YANKEES was made.

"Fans, for the past two weeks you have been reading about a bad break I got. Yet today, I consider myself the luckiest man on the face of the earth.

"I have been in ballparks for 17 years, and I 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 have considered it an honor to have known Jacob Ruppert; also, the builder of baseball's greatest empire, Ed Barrows; 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 against her own daughter, that's something. When you have a father and mother who work all their lives so that 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 may have had a tough break, but I have an awful lot to live for. Thank You."

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Last updated: March 10, 2011.
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