The Speech // Lou Gehrig

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 seventeen years and 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 to associate with them for even one day?

Sure, I’m lucky. Who wouldn’t consider it an honor to have known Jacob Ruppert – also the builder of baseball’s greatest empire, Ed Barrow – to have spent the next nine 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 might have had a tough break – but I have an awful lot to live for!

The prose extract is a speech verbalised by the Yankee, a famous American baseball team’s, first base, Lou Gehrig who expresses his gratitude to all his acquaintances. Using the first person narration, Gehrig presents the simplicity of humanity and courage, contrasting the transient physical courage with that of a glorifying moral courage.

Having lost his career in baseball, Gehrig refrains from centralising his speech around him and him only, identifying and highlighting other identities, be them associated with him in sports or in his personal life. He uses certain rhetoric devices to construct the mood of his speech, as well as to create an emotive tone. Hyperboles are used to highlight how, despite this setback that has sabotaged his career, he still considers him as the ‘luckiest man on the face of the earth’. Repetition of ‘Sure, I’m lucky’ and ‘that’s something’ has also been employed deliberately to emphasis on the positive influences that has been at play in his life, thus overshadowing the negative force. The speaker entices the listeners with the constant use of exclamations to bring about the spirit of joyousness along with the insertion of erotema to lace a personal connection with the readers. The use of this erotema in the statements: ‘Which of you’ and ‘Who wouldn’t’ also heightens the respectability and honour of not only the directed individuals but in an indirect and unintentional way, of the speaker as well. He constantly points out at respective attributes of such people, referring them as ‘grand’ and acknowledging them on the basis of their personal dexterity – ‘smart student of psychology’ ‘builder of baseball’s greatest empire’.

In the fourth paragraph, the speaker transitions from acknowledging his sports associates to present his gratitude towards his family members. He infuses his speech with a comical statement when describing his mother-in-law’s support, and pinpoints at specific personal events to instil a level of intimacy in his speech. He then identifies his own parents by professing how it was a blessing to have people who worked so hard for him and then transfers his acknowledgement towards his wife, describing her with a metaphorical insertion – ‘a tower of strength’.

Gehrig presents a short speech but within that constricted scope, he transfers the attention from him to others – producing an epitomising concept of moral selflessness. He does not wallow in pain, but rather looks up at his friends and family and all the positive influence that they had brought in his life. Gehrig presents how in the midst of utter darkness – when you lose the thing you are most passionate about, when you lose your entire career to something beyond your control – you still hold your head up high and look fro all the positivity that still exists in your life. Through his beautifully constructed speech and own selflessness – Gehrig presents an exemplary model of moral courage.

See What Else We've Written

Scroll to Top