Letters

May 22, 1988

GEHRIG'S FAREWELL
David Noonan's story about Lou Gehrig and amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (Double Legacy of the Iron Horse, April 4) is one of the finest pieces I've read in your magazine. Could you print Gehrig's farewell address?
MARK S. MARUSCSAK
Norwich, Conn.

•Newsreels of the speech by Gehrig (below, center, in uniform) on July 4, 1939, were severely edited, and newspaper accounts varied. One version is as follows: "Fans, for the past two weeks you have been reading about a bad break I got. Yet today I consider myself the luckiest man on the face of the earth. I have been in ballparks for 17 years, and I have never received anything but kindness and encouragement from you fans. Look at these grand men. Which of you wouldn't consider it the highlight of his career just to associate with them for even one day? 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 against her own daughter—that's something. When you have a father and mother who work all their lives so that 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 had a bad break, but I have an awful lot to live for."

In the film Pride of the Yankees, Gary Cooper, who plays Gehrig, utters a somewhat different version of the speech. Most notably, Hollywood couldn't resist the temptation to move Gehrig's second sentence—and most famous line—to the end. The film speech concludes, "People all say that I've had a bad break. But today, today I consider myself the luckiest man on the face of the earth."—ED.

ALI AND FRIENDS
My congratulations to Gary Smith on his moving story Ali and His Entourage (April 25). Many of us go through life without making an impact on those immediately around us, and then along comes a Muhammad Ali, who through his athletic prowess and personal magnetism captures the heart and imagination of the entire world. As was poignantly revealed, Ali also left an indelible mark upon those closest to him. The sense of guilt expressed by members of his entourage for not persuading him to stop boxing earlier, their agony over every crushing blow received by the champ, their everlasting love and devotion to him and their sense of emptiness in a life without him are all testaments to the man, not just the boxer.
STEVE TAWIL, M.D.
The Bronx

I cannot remember being as moved and saddened as when reading about Luis Sarria and Bundini Brown, or as happy as when reading about Lana Shabazz, Herbert Muhammad and Pat Patterson. And I don't think anyone ever wrote about my relationship to the Ali Circus with more clarity and soul. Although devastatingly truthful, Gary Smith presents Ali in a loving, caring light, gently describing his present condition without pity or condescension. And if Gregory Heisler's portrait of Sarria is not an award winner, then I've never seen one.
FERDIE PACHECO, M.D.
Miami

I've never been much of a fight fan. And, like many other people, I guess I had negative thoughts as I watched the brash, cocky, outrageous Cassius Clay turn into Muhammad Ali. I can vaguely remember his brush with the Selective Service back in the 1960s. As a child from a conservative military family, I found his actions distasteful. But beneath it all, I think I always respected his greatness as an athlete, sensed a kindness in his eyes and manner and felt that he was always putting us, and Howard Cosell, on. I, too, was drawn to the legend.
PHIL SHUMWAY
Chandler, Ariz.

ABUSED HORSES
Thank you for the story Bad Time for Wild Horses (April 25). The whole mess started because cattlemen, who pay a very small fee to the government for the right to graze their herds on public lands, do not wish to share these lands with the mustangs. If it were up to them, they would slaughter every last horse.
MARCIA K. GREEN
Bellmore, N.Y.

What's wrong with marketing animals for slaughter? I am from North Dakota, raise cattle and am proud to be a beef producer. Does that mean something is wrong with me? I think not. The bleeding hearts of America, along with the BLM [Bureau of Land Management] have created this problem of overabundance. Now they feel we taxpayers should pay for their mistake. The government should gather the excess horses and sell them. This would prevent any more senseless and catastrophic results such as occurred at Minnewaukan Flats.
MARK J. VOLL
Dickinson, N.Dak.

Kudos to Bill Nack on a well-written presentation of a subject that has to be one of the most highly-charged and emotional issues Congress has ever tackled. Abusers of the system make sensationalized coverage a temptation. SI's journalistic principles led it around this trap, and your readers received a balanced account of the dilemma.

Administering the wild horse program in a manner acceptable to the Congress, the public and the courts, without shirking our core land-management mandates, has been my most vexing problem during seven years in this job. That's why, on March 1, I took the unusual step of asking Congress to hold oversight hearings into my agency's carrying out of the 1971 Wild Free-Roaming Horse and Burro Act as well as on the law itself. Some observers saw my request as the issuance of a challenge. I saw it as a simple call: "Help!"

The unanswered question of what to do with excess horses must be resolved. BLM spends 26,000 tax dollars a day on hay. As a taxpayer, I can't help but think that there are a few more urgent domestic needs for some of that money—like school lunches for needy kids.

I hope that Congress will lend BLM a hand by focusing on the issue, so that palatable solutions can be found.
ROBERT F. BURFORD
Director
Bureau of Land Management
Washington, D.C.

PHOTOAP

Letters to SPORTS ILLUSTRATED should include the name, address and home telephone number of the writer and should be addressed to The Editor, SPORTS ILLUSTRATED, Time & Life Building, Rockefeller Center, New York, N.Y. 10020-1393.

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