Reading time: About 1 minute
This is my weekly installment of “writing about writing,” in which I scan the world to find websites, books and articles to help other writers. Today I discuss a new summertime feature in the New York Times…
Back when I worked in the newspaper business, I learned the practice of preparing obituaries for famous people long before they were dead. I also developed an appreciation for particularly well-written ones. For all of these reasons I was thrilled to learn that the New York Times has recently launched a special summer feature exhuming especially interesting obits.
On June 2, the Times tackled the story of Lou Gehrig (shown above), legendary Yankee first baseman and hitter, who was felled at the tragic age of 37 by amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (A.L.S.), a neurodegenerative disease. Today it often goes by the informal name, Lou Gehrig’s disease. I’m woefully familiar with the disease as a friend of colleague of mine died of it seven years ago next month.
I’m not a sports fan, however, so I found the obit’s recounting of Gehrig’s farewell address to fans both new and moving:
Gehrig delivered a farewell speech to a crowd of 61,808 at Yankee Stadium on July 4, 1939, during a sweltering break between games in a doubleheader with the Washington Senators. The Yankees had lost the first game, 3-2, and Gehrig took the field with his aging teammates from the 1927 World-Series-champion Yankees, a fearsome lineup known as Murderers’ Row. He was overcome with emotion but still delivered what some have called baseball’s Gettysburg Address.
“For the past two weeks you have been reading about the bad break I got,” Gehrig said, according to the National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum’s website. “Yet today I consider myself the luckiest man on the face of the earth.”
There’s something uplifting learning about how others have dealt with particularly difficult situations or conditions. I hope to learn more as the summer obit series continues…