The One about Richard Sandomir’s “The Pride of the Yankees: Lou Gehrig, Gary Cooper, and the Making of a Classic”

I’m a huge Yankees fan, literally have a shrine in one room with autographs from famous Yankees from past to present. And I also have a few items honoring the legendary Lou Gehrig.

And I am a huge fan of the film “The Pride of the Yankees”.

And how wonderful it is to have a book titled “The Pride of the Yankees: Lou Gehrig, Gary Cooper, and the Making of a Classic” dedicated to the making of the film, the actors and how the film made the legend of Lou Gehrig even greater.

If anything, writer Richard Sandomir helps readers understand how the film perpetuates the legacy of Gehrig, also showcasing facts that the speech that most people have heard is from the film, as there really is not much surviving footage of the actual speech and that Gehrig’s “Luckiest Man Alive” was said earlier in the speech and not in the end as shown in the film.

There was a lot of research done for this book and one thing that I have always wondered about was Babe Ruth’s involvement in the film. Especially considering that the relationship between both men and their families was not so positive at the end of these two legends baseball careers. And how happy I was that Sandomir has a chapter about that. I had no idea of how far Eleanor Gehrig wanted to keep Babe Ruth out of the film but at the end, to make the film look authentic, his appearance mattered greatly in making the film a true classic.

Also surprising of Samuel Goldwyn’s furious stand towards the film because he felt it had too much baseball. But also details of how other former Yankees were in the film (and why others weren’t). The battle between mom Gehrig and his wife Eleanor.

And of course the details of Gary Cooper (learning to play baseball) and Teresa Wright playing Eleanor. The real Eleanor having to watch Gary Cooper deliver the speech on set.

But also details post-film about how soldiers requesting for Gary Cooper to say the speech during a USO Tour, to Teresa Wright becoming a baseball fan decades later after throwing the ball on Lou Gehrig’s Day at Game 1 of the American League Championship Series between the Yankees and the Cleveland Indians.

And so much more that made me enjoy “The Pride of the Yankees: Lou Gehrig, Gary Cooper, and the Making of a Classic” even more. It’s no doubt a special book for those who are fans of Lou Gehrig but most importantly the film “The Pride of the Yankees”.


 

Dennis A. Amith