Tag Archives: Gary Cooper


Baseball card of Lou Gehrig of the New York Yankees
Public Domain

On July 4, 1939 before a crowd of 60,000 a unique event occurred in the history of baseball.  Lou Gehrig, whose impressive numbers had become the stuff of legends, was being honored. He was given many awards and spoken highly by all those who spoke before the crowd. Gehrig was awed by all the attention he was receiving. The crowd wanted him to speak and he did. What he said went down in baseball history. Regrettably only a small amount as actually recorded but the full speech was reported in the newspapers and later accounts.

“For the past two weeks you have been reading about a bad break. 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.

“When you look around, wouldn’t you consider it a privilege to associate yourself with such a fine looking men as they’re standing in uniform in this ballpark today? 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. Thank you.”

Lou Gehrig would pass away in June 1941 a young 37 years of age due to complications of Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis or known as Lou Gehrig’s disease. ALS is incurable neuromuscular disease where progressive muscle weakness results causing paralysis. The brain loses the ability to control muscle movement so the muscle weaken and deteriorate. His wife Eleanor, who never remarried, spent the rest of her life supporting ALS research.  Columbia University, where he attended for a while, has The Eleanor and Lou Gehrig ALS Center to continue to research and ways to treat this terrible disease. His number, 4, was retired by the Yankees in 1939.

Below is the official recording and commentary from the Smithsonian Channel. The second is from Ken Burns Baseball documentary but uses the speech from  the movie Pride of the Yankees with Gary Cooper playing Lou Gehrig. It is a great movie and worth getting on dvd. This final scene with the farewell speech ranks as one of the top movie lines most remembered of all time.


The High Noon Ballad

Do Not Forsake Me is the song made famous in High Noon (1952) starring Gary Cooper and Grace Kelly. The song is sung at the opening of the movie and is often instrumentally heard throughout the movie. The movie is not standard western movie fare where you have lots of action leading up to a main gunfight. In this movie, the gunfight occurs near the end. Most of the movie is made up with Gary Cooper’s character trying in vain to find townspeople to help stand with him against Frank Miller and his gang. In the end he must face them alone although his wife does help kill one of the gang. It won many top awards in the 1952 Academy Awards (Best Actor, Best Music, Best Film Editing, Best Music in Song). Tex Ritter, who recorded the song for the movie, played it live for the audience at the Academy Awards.

There are two general versions of the song. One is the Tex Ritter version heard in High Noon which references the name Frank Miller in the lyrics. The second and more commonly heard one omits any reference to Frank Miller and the most famous rendition is by Frankie Laine. Here are both versions for your Academy Award Sunday.