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Yankees Top Moments: (#1) Lou Gehrig's "Luckiest Man" speech vs (#4) DiMaggio's streak hits 56

Which was a better Yankees moment--baseball's most memorable speech or one of its most unbreakable records?


The Pinstripe Alley Top Moments Tournament enters the second round of the founding-1959 bracket. Vote for the moment that deserves to move on in the poll below.

(#1) Lou Gehrig's "Luckiest Man" Speech

On July 4, 1939, Lou Gehrig stepped to the microphone at Yankee Stadium on Lou Gehrig Day after being diagnosed with amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, a disease that would later be known as Lou Gehrig's disease. The disease put an early end to the Iron Horse's career, also forcing an end to Gehrig's consecutive game streak at 2,130 games from June 1, 1925 to May 2, 1939 because of his deteriorating health.

After announcing his retirement on June 21, Gehrig made his famous speech in front of more than 60,000 fans between games of a double header against the Senators on Independence Day. In the emotional farewell, Gehrig thanked the fans for their kindness and encouragement following his grim diagnosis, and claimed himself "the luckiest man on the face of the Earth", which would become one of the most iconic sports moments in history. Gehrig closed his speech with the similarly famous line, "So I close in saying that I might have been given a bad break, but I've got an awful lot to live for", before being joined at the microphone by his Murderer's Row partner, Babe Ruth.

By the time Gehrig made his famous speech, his condition had already worsened considerably. His number 4 was retired by the Yankees, earning him the honor as the first baseball player to have their number retired in baseball. In December of 1939, Gehrig was elected to the Hall of Fame in a special vote by the Baseball Writers Association as the second-youngest player ever to be voted in. Gehrig passed away in 1941, exactly 16 years after he famously took over for Wally Pipp in the Yankees' lineup to begin his great consecutive game streak.

The Luckiest Man speech is much more than just an iconic player's farewell to the game of baseball, instead representing a dying man showing grace and humility in the face of a tragic illness that ended his career and life all too soon. Gehrig walked away because his condition made him feel like he was hurting his team, but as his manager told him on the day of his famous speech, he was never that.

Entry written by Tanya Bondurant on November 19, 2013.

(#4) DiMaggio strings together 56

Joe DiMaggio's 56 consecutive games with a hit wasn't ultimately the most impressive feat of the season- during DiMaggio's streak he went 91 for 223, a .408 average- and that same season Ted Williams hit .406 for season. But .400 didn't captivate the nation the way 56 did. Why? DiMaggio brought a nearly unprecedented blend of power, speed and bat control to the plate.

Here's the list of players with more home runs than Joe D.'s 361 and a lower strikeout rate:

For fun, here's the list of players in baseball history with fewer strikeouts and 200 home runs:

DiMaggio set the record on July 2, 1941 with a homer against Boston's Dick Newsome, moving past Willie Keeler's 44-game hitting streak from 1897. He then pushed the streak to 56 two weeks later after the All-Star break by singling off of the Indians' Al Milnar on July 16th in Cleveland. A couple great plays by third baseman Ken Keltner ended the streak the next day, but DiMaggio's amazing feat has stood the test of time.

For records? Ruth's 60 home runs would stand for 34 years. Ty Cobb's hits record stood for 60 years. DiMaggio's hitting streak is 72 years old and as strikeouts rise, seems safer each season. The second longest streak in MLB history aside from Keeler belongs to Pete Rose- at 44 games, Rose was only three-quarters of the way through DiMaggio's 56.

Entry written by John Beck on November 22, 2013.