#Hot Corner

James Gandolfini and the "Luckiest Man"

Jim McIsaac

Eleven years ago, James Gandolfini walked onto the Yankee Stadium field and recited Lou Gehrig's famous "Luckiest Man" speech. Alas, MLB.com's got just the first little bit of the speech; it would be nice to know if Gandolfini ever started acting during it (but this snippet suggests that he didn't) ...

Here's a dirty little secret, friends ... We'll probably never know exactly what Gehrig said in this most famous of baseball speeches. You'll find transcripts in books, but no single, authoritative transcript ever existed. Jonathan Eig included a transcript in his Gehrig biography, Luckiest Man ... but in the end notes, Eig admits, "First, second, fourth, and last sentences of Gehrig's speech transcribed from newsreel footage; other sentences pieced together from various newspaper accounts."

So you've got a bunch of writers up in the press box, typing or taking notes as fast as they can. And it's highly unlikely that anyone got it all, or that a reconstruction might be perfect. Which doesn't really bother me, but I do think it's worth noting that the only words we know Gehrig spoke are those words we can actually hear him speaking ...

And of course, adding to the confusion is that more people have heard Gary Cooper than Lou Gehrig giving the speech:

So now we've got Gehrig, Cooper, and Gandolfini. Not a bad Murderers Row at all. But I still hope that someday someone discovers, in an attic or a dusty storage closet somewhere, a recording of Gehrig's entire speech. That would be something.

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