Luckiest Man

(Critical Survey of Contemporary Fiction)

Most baseball fans know of Lou Gehrig (1903-1941) from the 1942 movie Pride of the Yankees, which described not only his exemplary career with the New York Yankees but especially the great dignity with which he faced his imminent death and the extraordinary speech he gave on July 4, 1939, at Yankee Stadium as he was dying. Lou Gehrig began this famous speech by saying that he considered himself “to be the luckiest man on the face of the earth.” The wonderful Luckiest Man: The Life and Death of Lou Gehrig enables readers to understand why Lou Gehrig was paradoxically correct in affirming that his had been an excellent life, although by July, 1939, he knew that he would soon die from the incurable illness that now bears in name.

Gehrig understood all too well that his excellence in baseball had not come easily. He was the only surviving child of German immigrants and he struggled to learn English. It took him many years to perfect his skills as a fielder and as a hitter. Biographer Jonathan Eig shows convincingly that Gehrig was not painfully shy as many people have believed. Gehrig considered baseball to be the job that enabled him to offer a good life to his wife and his parents whom he loved unconditionally. He kept playing each day year after year because he did not want to fall back into the poverty of his youth.

This wonderful biography based on historical documents and interviews enables readers to appreciate the humility and profound dignity of a true American hero, who happened to be a great baseball player.