A Moment to Reflect: October's Baseball Playoffs & Breast Cancer Awareness Month


While having my coffee, and reading the Wall Street Journal the other day, I couldn't help but reflect on how many of us are facing obstacles that require us to be strong and have powerful mental fortitude. 1 in 8 woman will be diagnosed with breast cancer this year. For many of these woman it is a very challenging time. With the NY Yankees looking like they are on their way to another World Series, Colin Fleming of the Wall Street Journal wrote a moving article on Lou Gehrig. This inspirational article reminded me that so many of us have daily battles that we face like breast cancer....like ALS.

Please read and share this article....Lou Gehrig in Autumn He had already retired when he walked off the field 80 years ago.

By Colin Fleming Wall Street Journal

The most powerful work of sports photography I know is a baseball photo that knocks me to my knees each time I see it, reminding me that baseball is the wisest sport. I wonder how few people have ever seen this photo, but as they say, Google is your friend.It dates from the 1939 World Series, when the most dominant edition of the New York Yankees—the greatest baseball team of all time, going by the statistics—swept the Cincinnati Reds.

This was also the year when Lou Gehrig’s health forced him from the game, the year the ailing slugger gave his “luckiest man” speech at Yankee Stadium on the Fourth of July. Most people think that was his last public appearance. But months later Gehrig materialized for the World Series, sitting in the dugout with his former teammates. It speaks to the potency of this team that it could lose Gehrig and roll on as a cadre of Zeuses. Maybe they fought harder to honor him. World Series celebrations at the time did not involve the piling of human flesh they do now, but they had their melee component. Jubilant players hugged jubilant players; vanquished sluggers dipped their heads, walking stoically away. Then there was Lou Gehrig.

We do not know who took this photo of Gehrig, his back to the camera as he walks off Crosley Field, his iconic number 4 the reverse of a coin of inestimable worth. Gehrig’s legs remain tree trunks. He is not yet racked by the disease that would come to bear his name, but he knows it is coming.

What is he thinking? Does he contemplate how sorely he will miss these men? How many more World Series will he see? He is both part of a team and no more a part of the team than I am. He is in between. He is a human lacuna.

That is why I love this photograph, with its Keatsian visual poetry. We are all forever in between. We talk about official starts—a solid push to begin a new week, relationship, year—but the flow of life doesn’t have intervals. It’s constant. Baseball gets this. The Gehrig photo shows it.

Gehrig’s Fourth of July remarks surely rank among the most galvanizing in American history. The photo puts Gehrig’s words into visible practice. I see a person who need not be one thing, a man of steeled mind who will adapt to winnowing time. Aren’t we all tasked with this?

Baseball moves at less of a blur than the other major sports. Its perpetual dalliance with change is played in slower motion. We can see our own changes—ourselves—in baseball, especially fall baseball. We look at this most autumnal photograph, dated Oct. 8, 1939, and feel fall’s cool, oaky wind on our necks. Baseball challenges players and spectators alike to develop mental fortitude. This inner strength helps us when we lose control in other areas. Maybe the areas of loss are physical. Maybe they come when we have hit a slump—either in the batter’s box or in life—that we can’t seem to shake off.

No one is saluting Gehrig in the photo. No one is pumping his hand. He isn’t moving at a harried pace. He looks in control to me, commanding something larger than his body. Gehrig’s self-mastery is what baseball is all about. It’s also part of the wisdom that baseball reveals in autumn.

Mr. Fleming is author of “Buried on the Beaches: Cape Stories for Hooked Hearts and Driftwood Souls.”


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