The Luckiest Man

This week marks the 75th anniversary of Lou Gehrig’s famous “Luckiest Man On the Face of the Earth” speech when he was honored at Yankee Stadium near the end of his legendary career.

Here is a cool video where the first basemen from all the MLB teams recite his speech and then Derek Jeter concludes it:

The full transcript is below:

“Fans, for the past two weeks you have been reading about the bad break I got. Yet today I consider myself the luckiest man on the face of this 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 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 with her own daughter – that’s something. When you have a father and a mother who work all their lives so 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 been given a bad break, but I’ve got an awful lot to live for.”

Lou Gehrig

Speech transcript via Lou Gehrig’s website

Coping With The Disaster

John Berman at ABC News offered up a great “out of office” notice for New England fans reeling from last night’s culmination of the Red Sox epic September collapse:

What is a Red Sox fan to do today? I hope to provide some practical assistance. Accordingly, below you will see my e-mail “out of office” reply. You are welcome to cut and paste it into your own. I find it weeds out some of the annoying correspondence I am getting.
I am in the office, but filtering e-mails with the following warnings:
1) If you are NOT from a certain part of the country (New England), please be aware of the following:
– You are probably NOT as funny as you think you are.
– No, I don’t “have to admit it was an amazing game. I don’t have to admit anything. This is America, and I have amendments on my side.
– There is a good chance I already don’t like you.

2) If you are from the New England area:
– No, I can’t believe it either.
– No, I don’t want to talk about it.
– In fact, let’s never speak of this again. I’m filing it away with that Super Bowl, 1986, and that thing with the glittered indelible body paint.

Happy Birthday Yogi! (A Day Late)

I’m not one to extol complements on NY Yankee players, but yesterday was Yogi Berra’s 86th birthday. Yogi was one of the great catchers and players of his era, but is just as widely known for his epicly logical-yet funny-quotes. So in honor of his b-day, here are a few my favorite “Yogi-ism’s”:

  • “Ninety percent of this game is half mental.”
  • “When you come to a fork in the road, take it.”
  • “You can observe a lot by watching”
  • “It gets late out there early.”
  • “It ain’t over until it’s over.”
  • “Nobody goes there anymore. It’s too crowded.”
  • “Always go to other people’s funerals, otherwise they won’t come to yours.”
  • “If you don’t know where you are going, you might wind up someplace else.”
  • “It’s tough to make predictions, especially about the future.”

Better late than never. :)

Video of Ruth and Gehrig

A rare video of Lou Gehrig and Babe Ruth has surfaced showing the two baseball legends socializing during one of their midwest barnstorming tours right after the 1927 season:

Amid eight reels of 16-millimeter film recently discovered in excellent condition in an Illinois cellar are three and a half minutes of Ruth and Gehrig wearing the uniforms, but not the caps, of their barnstorming teams. The film is believed to have been shot with a high-end home movie camera in or around Sioux City, Iowa, on Oct. 18, 1927, 10 days after the Yankees completed a four-game World Series sweep of the Pittsburgh Pirates.

NY Times

A link to the video on the NY Times site is here

Bing Crosby and The Kid

Teddy Ballgame

Over the weekend, there were two great vintage baseball stories in the NY Times.

The first was a profile of John Updike’s seminal baseball essay The Hub Bids Kid Adieu. The essay documented the famous last game that Ted Williams played for the Red Sox, when he hit a home run in his final at bat in the majors yet refused to acknowledge the crowd and the press as he rounded the bases for the final time. Over the years, Williams’ relationship with the Boston press and the Red Sox fan base was hardly cordial. The irony is that Updike was not even planning on being in attendance at that game:

Only 10,455 fans turned up to say goodbye to Williams, who was 42, hobbled by aches and pains. Among them, sitting behind third base, was 28-year-old John Updike, who had actually scheduled an adulterous assignation that day. But when he reached the woman’s apartment, on Beacon Hill, he found that he had been stood up: no one was home. “So I went, as promised, to the game” he wrote years later, “and my virtue was rewarded.”

If you have not read the original essay in the New Yorker, I highly recommend it.

An even more important story surfaced this weekend about Bing Crosby and his passion for the game of baseball. I was surprised to learn that Crosby was a part owner of the Pittsburgh Pirates back in the late 1950’s and early 1960’s. His ownership spanned the 1960 season when the Pirates famously beat the NY Yankees in the seventh game of that series on Bill Mazeroski’s 9th inning, game 7 home run. With Crosby’s hectic travel schedule due to his “day job”, he did not get to see his Pirates play as much as he would have liked. During the 1960 World Series, he was too nervous to watch the series so he traveled to France and listened to the game on wireless radio. So what else did he do? He recorded the broadcast!

He knew he would want to watch the game later “if his Pirates won” so he hired a company to record Game 7 by kinescope, an early relative of the DVR, filming off a television monitor. The five-reel set, found in December in Crosby’s home, is the only known complete copy of the game, in which Pirates second baseman Bill Mazeroski hit a game-ending home run to beat the Yankees, 10-9. It is considered one of the greatest games ever played.

Crosby, the singer and movie, radio and TV star, had more foresight than the television networks and stations, which erased or discarded nearly all of the Major League Baseball games they carried until the 1970s.

A canny preservationist of his own legacy, Crosby, who died in 1977, kept a half-century’s worth of records, tapes and films in the wine cellar turned vault in his Hillsborough, CA., home.

So for the first time in 50 years, the full broadcast of the famous 7th Game of the 1960 World Series will be able to be viewed in its entirety when its re-broadcast this October. I can’t wait and like Mr. Crosby, I’ll have to find a nice scotch on the rocks to enjoy during the broadcast

A Tale of Four Pitchers

This weekend, the Red Sox were down in the Bronx taking on the Yankees in a typical late August four game series. The teams split the series, with each team winning two games. But here is the interesting thing. The two winning pitchers for the Red Sox were Clay Buchholtz and John Lester, who combined earn about $4MM a year. The Red Sox losing pitchers were Josh Beckett and John Lackey, who combined make around $30MM a year. Now that’s NOT getting your money’s worth.

Now Batting, Batting, Batting

A tip of my Red Sox cap to the Yankees as the legendary announcer of the team Bob Sheppard passed on today at the age of 99. I have never been a fan of going to Yankee Stadium (for obvious reasons) however Sheppard’s voice was always “familiar”. He had that distinctive deep voice that announced Yankee games since 1951 and, as Reggie Jackson described, sounded like “The Voice of God”.  

The Yankees’ lineup for Sheppard’s first game on April 17, 1951, included DiMaggio, Mickey Mantle, Johnny Mize, Yogi Berra, and Phil Rizzuto. And the opponents that day, the Boston Red Sox, were led by Ted Williams.

Over his full career, he announced over 70 Hall of Famers.

New Babe Ruth Footage

Some new footage was of Babe Ruth was recently discovered in a home movie collection from a family in New Hampshire.

The latest Babe Ruth film, unseen publicly until now, is part of a 90-second clip shot from the first-base stands at Yankee Stadium. There is no sound. But there are sweeping views of the park. And there is Ruth, obvious by his shape and waddle.

Here’s hoping this discovery will place a curse on the Yankees this post season. :)

Enter Sandman

As I’m watching the last game at Yankee Stadium on ESPN (Disclosure: I’m a life long Red Sox fan), you can’t help but get a little tingle watching Mo Rivera leave the bullpen to Enter Sandman. Its just an awesome and, if I was a player, pretty intimidating spectacle.

I’ve never been too fond of the Yankees, but I’ve been to the old Stadium in the Bronx enough to appreciate the history and importance of the building. From a baseball history perspective, I’m sorry to see it go. From a competitive perspective, I can’t wait for them to tear the place down. Too many bad memories (but one spectacular one – Game 7, 2004 ALCS) I just don’t look forward to the extra cash that the Yanks will rake in with the new stadium and how they will use it for their team.

The NYTimes posted a pretty cool panoramic of Yankee Stadium from last night. If you have a wide computer screen, be sure to enlarge the photo to full screen.

So tonight is the Yankees night. Enjoy the off season, watching the Red Sox in the playoffs.

Sox vs. Yanks

Big weekend up on Yawkey Way in Boston with the Red Sox and Yanks holding a 5 game series.

Massacre Alert:: Oh man, what a fiasco. Three Four Five straight drubbings at the hands of the Yankees. This is definitely the Son of the Boston Massacre, although the Sox did not blow a 14 game division lead this time. There’s always 2007.

Great article in the Friday 8/18/2006 NY Times, where writer John Branch tried to define the physical border across Connecticut, NY State, and Massacusetts between Red Sox Nation and Yankee Country (I won’t go into how “Red Sox Nation” sounds so much cooler than “Yankee Country”…). And be sure to watch the accompanying video as that is also very entertaining.

Poetic Justice

In a twist that you just could not script any better, the Red Sox and the Yankees will kick off the 2005 season at Yankee Stadium. Then, and this is where it gets fun, the Red Sox will play the Yankees at the 2005 home opener at Fenway Park, which also happens to be when the Red Sox will be receiving their World Series rings. Nothing could be finer than having Jeter, A-Fraud, et al sitting through the ceremonies when the Red Sox get their rings and raise the World Championship banner at Fenway. Teddy Ballgame is smiling down on us.

Update: The below video is of Opening Day at Fenway Park in 2005, when Mariano Rivera was announced before the game. The reaction of the Red Sox fans (vigorous roars and ovations!!) to Rivera’s introduction, but more importantly, Mo’s wide smile and reaction to the cheering, is just fantastic. I love everything about this video and it makes me smile every time I watch it.

Bambino’s Curse

One of my favorite Red Sox blogs/web sites will be signing off now that the Red Sox have won the World Series and effectively ended “The Curse”. The blog, appropriately named The Bambino’s Curse, will be shutting its doors according to its last post. Not to worry, the site will still be there for people to view, read and enjoy. But there will be no future contributions since, for all intense and purposes, the focal point of the site (a Red Sox fan’s lament of not winning the World Series) was made obsolite with the Red Sox’ amazing run to the 2004 World Series Championship.



Incredibly, the Red Sox came back from a 3-0 games lead by the Yankees and won the AL Championship Series by winning 4 straignt games against the Yankees. A week ago, I never thought they could do it. After Game 3, I was pretty reseved to the fact that we were again going to lose to the Yankees in the playoffs. Maybe they would win one or two games, but never did I expect 4 in a row. I am still having a difficult time believing they did it and I’m having a hard time expressing into words just how happy and proud I am of the Red Sox. Apparently I’m not the only one struggling for words…even Bob Ryan from the Boston Globe, one who is never at a loss for something to say about Boston sports, was having a form of overjoyed writer’s block, And to achieve such a feat against the Yankees in Yankee Stadium. Its just too good!! It does not get any better!! They will always be the first team in MLB history to blow a 3-0 lead. And the Red Sox will always be the first team to have come back from such a deficit.

I hope they do not get too caught up in the greatness and emotion of this series and lose sight of the real goal – winning the World Series, because there is more baseball to be played against either the Astros or Cardinals. Not winning it all will definitely take something away from their incredible victory. However, winning it all, and going through the NY Yankees and Yankee Stadium to do it, would elevate this team on a plane reached by few teams in the annals of Sports.

As Bob Ryan from the Boston Globe wrote today, “I need a beer.”

Its Over

The Red Sox – Yankees series is over. Dan Shaughnessy wrote a pretty blunt article in the Boston Globe today. It sums it all up.

I don’t know what team the Yankees were playing during the first two games of this series, but it wasn’t the Red Sox I watched most of this season. During the first game, I was so disgusted I turned the TV off after the 6th Inning. I could not bear the thought of suffering through another Red Sox comeback that got agonizingly close but fell short again, and again. For the second game, I managed to sit through the whole fiasco only because 3 runs against Jon Leiber did not seem like such an insurmountable lead. But I guess it was. I had thought that at worst we would leave the Bronx tied 1-1, but I guess I didn’t dig deep enough into the chasm of dispair. And Game Three…forget it! Being 3 games down is a huge hole to dig out of. This thing is over.

New owners, new pretty boy GM, new injured ace pitcher…same result. Another cold winter wondering what went wrong. Its football season.

Update: Unless you live on Mars, you know the the Red Sox pulled off the greatest comeback in North American Sports history. I obviously wanted them to come back, but with the debacle of the Game Three loss and them being down 3-0 in the Series, I was obviously skeptical that they would actually pull it off. But they did it. I have left this post up on my blog to remind myself never to give up.