Bronx Epitaph

How Lou Gehrig's "Luckiest Man" Speech Defined the Yankee Legend

By Steven K. Wagner

Subjects: Sports And Society, New York/regional, American Culture, General Interest
Series: Excelsior Editions
Imprint: Excelsior Editions
Paperback : 9781438491806, 216 pages, January 2023

Alternative formats available from:

Table of contents

List of Illustrations

1. Fans

2. A Bad Break

3. Luckiest Man

4. Men in Uniform

5. An Honor

6. Empire Builder

7. Grand Little Fellow

8. The Greatest Manager

9. My Roommate

10. Across the River

11. The Yankees Family

12. Mother-in-Law

13. Mom and Pop

14. Tower of Strength

15. Awful Lot to Live For

Selected Bibliography
About the Author

The first book to comprehensively examine Lou Gehrig's famous "Luckiest Man" speech.


When Lou Gehrig stepped to the plate on Independence Day 1939, he was not there to deliver a home run. For the first time in seventeen years, Gehrig was there to deliver his heart. In recent weeks he had lost his job as the Yankees' first baseman as well as the good health that had made him the team's respected Iron Horse and was facing a death sentence. Nervous and fidgety as he walked through a forest of microphones, Gehrig collected himself and delivered thirteen words that will live forever: "Today I consider myself the luckiest man on the face of the earth."

Bronx Epitaph, the first comprehensive look at the slugger's epic speech, is the story of Lou Gehrig's finest hour, a homily of so little consequence when first delivered that few newspapers published more than a sentence or two the following day. Over time, however, Gehrig's "Luckiest Man" speech has settled into a sphere so timeless and essential that it seems he delivered it only yesterday. It was, to be sure, his Bronx Epitaph.

Steven K. Wagner is a freelance writer. His many books include Game Won: How the Greatest Home Run Ever Hit Sparked the 1988 Dodgers to Game One Victory and an Improbable World Series Title and The Four Home Runs Club: Sluggers Who Achieved Baseball's Rarest Feat.


"Whether you are a fan of Lou Gehrig, a follower of the Yankees or just would like to know the back story behind one of baseball's most iconic moments, Steven Wagner's Bronx Epitaph has something for you. It is a well-researched and well-written tale that uses the words of Lou Gehrig's Farewell Speech to lead us through the story of the Hall of Famer's Life and the relationships that led him to his luckiest man conclusion." — Baseball Roundtable

"The words of Lou Gehrig, calling himself 'the luckiest man on the face of the earth,' as he spoke to fans while facing a deadly illness, will forever be a part of baseball history. In Bronx Epitaph, author Steven K. Wagner brings to life this historic moment in a revealing story of one of the game's all-time greats." — Fred Claire, former general manager for the Los Angeles Dodgers, coauthor of Fred Claire: My 30 Years in Dodger Blue