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Lou Gehrig's legacy reaches Eastern Kentucky on 75th anniversary of farewell speech

By: Tanner Hesterberg Email
By: Tanner Hesterberg Email

HAZARD, Ky. (WYMT) - Friday is the 75-year anniversary of one of baseball's greatest players bidding farewell.

New York Yankees first baseman Lou Gehrig delivered a speech - now known as the Gettsyburg Address of baseball - in which he famously said the words "Today I consider myself the luckiest man on the face of the earth."

At the time, he wasn't so lucky, battling Amytrophic lateral sclerosis, which later became known as Lou Gehrig's Disease.

Gehrig's legacy is still strong and still inspiring baseball players and coaches everywhere, including in Eastern Kentucky.

Gehrig delivered that speech on July 4, 1939, being forced to retire after playing in 2,130 consecutive games.

"Imagine going to your job 2,000 straight days. You gotta love it," said Perry Central High School baseball coach Bobby Dixon.

Dixon said Gehrig's example is one he instructs his players to follow.

"That's what we try to tell our kids, don't take a day for granted," Dixon said. "And always get out there and work hard. You're not going to feel the best every day. I'm sure Lou Gehrig never felt the best every day."

Gehrig died less than two years after the speech. He was 37.

But the strength and resolve he displayed while battling his sickness continues to inspire.

Gehrig won six world series championships with the Yankees and posted a career batting average of .340.

He was elected to the Baseball Hall of Fame shortly before his death and the Yankees have retired his number four uniform.

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