As I impatiently await Spring while looking at the new snow that has fallen in the last 24 hours and while yearning for some green besides an Evergreen, baseball is back!!! Since I have long been a Yankees fan, in fact ever since Yogi Berra and Mickey Mantle days in the 50's, I have always enjoyed the game! With everything that is going on in my life currently, I have felt extremely close to the impact that Lou Gehrig's life has had on so many! While many of these emotions are entirely new this year, the lessons of our heroes have always been there, but I was looking through rose colored glasses and failed to see the real meaning way too many times!
So this morning, I want to share a very simple story about a hero! And then what I have always missed when I read or live these stories!!!
The Greatest Baseball Story Ever by Mack Douglas
In 1937, Lou Gehrig, the outstanding first baseman of the New York Yankees, was asked to go to the Children's Hospital in Chicago, while there to play the White Sox, and visit a boy with polio. Tim, ten years old, had refused to try therapy to get well. Lou was his hero, and Tim’s parents hoped that Lou would visit Tim and urge him to try the therapy. Tim was amazed to meet his hero. Lou told Tim, “I want you to get well. Go to therapy and learn to walk again.” Tim said, “Lou, if you will knock a home run for me today, I will learn to walk again.” Lou promised. All the way to the ballpark, Lou felt a deep sense of obligation and even apprehension that he would not be able to deliver his promise that day. Lou didn’t knock one home run that day. He knocked two.
Two years later, when Lou Gehrig was dying with the dreaded muscular disease, that to this day bears his name, on July 4, 1939, they celebrated Lou Gehrig Day at Yankee Stadium. Eighty thousand fans, the governor, the mayor, and many other celebrities paid their respects. Lou was one of America’s great heroes. Just before the mike was turned over to Lou to respond, Tim, by this time twelve years old, walked out of the dugout, dropped his crutches, and with leg braces walked to home plate to hug Lou around the waist.
That’s what Lou Gehrig meant when he exclaimed those immortal words: “Today I consider myself the luckiest man on the face of the earth.”
To illustrate how differently we can see a story, we can feel a story, or we can use a story, I have made the following “list” of just what is different to me now....I would love it if it moved you enough to look at your own situation or station in life to discover the true meaning of a real hero that carries through generations or motivates you to maybe “go” against what you have always been taught or to move to a different level of meaning!
Think about the promises that were made in this story. When you make promises are you able to keep them?
Should our promises be taken lightly? Did Lou know if he could hit a home run? Did he know he would do it tomorrow? How do you think he felt about the promise he made?
What is a risky promise?
What does promise-keeping do to the trust other people place in us?
What do you think would have happened to Tim if Lou did not keep his promise? Because of his promise, what did he give Tim?
Will this story change how you make promises, especially risky ones in the future?
Have you ever been empathetic? Can you express these feelings?
How did Lou's empathy move him into action of making a promise? What if Lou wasn't an empathetic person do you think that he would have made this risky of a promise?
Do you understand empathy”? Are you emphatic? Does this story influence you in becoming a more empathetic person in the future?
And finally what did Lou Gehrig mean by....“Today I consider myself the luckiest man on the face of the earth.”
To me after much trying to decide what he meant because I think that there is more than the simple hug that Tim gave him....I found an excerpt from his wife's auto-biography that sums it up for all of us (if we let it)
His speech, according to his wife, was as follows:
"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 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 consider it an honor to have known Jacob Ruppert; also the builder of baseball's greatest empire, Ed Barrow; 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 might have had a tough break; but I have an awful lot to live for."
He began to back away, then remembered his manners and quickly added, "Thank you."
Applause, applause, applause, for nearly two minutes. Gehrig was visible shaken as he stepped back from the mics. He took out his handkerchief and wiped the tears away. Babe Ruth came over to hug him. And the emotions continued for Gehrig. He would not settle down until he had his wife with him within the safe, private confines of their home.
His speech has often been called the Gettysburg Address of baseball. Eleanor Gehrig revealed in her autobiography that he had spent the previous night working on his speech, writing it down, but never rehearsed it "because it was simple enough and agonizing enough and he was still shy enough, groping for some way to phrase the emotions that usually were kept securely locked up."