As I’ve written before, I love a good baseball movie, and one movie that I’d heard about for years, but had never watched, was 1942’s “The Pride of the Yankees.” It’s generally considered to be one of the greatest baseball movies of all time, but for whatever reason, I’d never taken the time to watch it. That’s why I added it to my “bucket list” several years ago.
Thanks to NetFlix, I finally scratched this movie off my “bucket list” this past Sunday, and it was even better than I expected. It’s an older movie, but that didn’t mean it wasn’t any good. If you’ve never seen it, and enjoy baseball, I highly recommend that you check it out.
For those of you unfamiliar with “The Pride of the Yankees,” it was first released in theaters on July 14, 1942 and tells the life story of legendary Hall of Fame New York Yankees first baseman Lou Gehrig. Directed by Sam Wood, the movie starred Gary Cooper in the role of Gehrig, Teresa Wright, Walter Brennan and Ernie Adams. This movie was also cool because it starred a number of baseball players, who played themselves, including Hall of Famer Babe Ruth, former Yankees catcher and manager Bill Dickey, former Yankees outfielder Bob Meusel and former Yankees shortstop Mark Koenig.
If you’ve never seen this movie, be forewarned. It’s pretty sad. As many of you know, Gehrig’s career and life were cut short in 1941 when he passed away at the age of 37 from amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, which is now commonly called “Lou Gehrig’s Disease.” The end of “The Pride of the Yankees” includes a tear-jerking portrayal of the farewell speech Gehrig gave at Yankee Stadium in 1939. It’s hard not to watch it without a lump in your throat.
(My wife watched most of this movie with me, and we got into a discussion that stemmed from the question, “What exactly is Lou Gehrig’s Disease?” According to what I read about it online, this incurable disease results in the death of the neurons that control voluntary muscles. Eventually, sufferers of this disease, which is also often referred to as ALS, lose the ability to breathe on their own and die from respiratory failure. Most people die within three to four years of being diagnosed with this terrible disease.)
One reason that I’ve wanted to see this movie for a long time is because I’ve seen it on a lot of “best-of” lists. In 2003, Sports Illustrated ranked “The Pride of the Yankees” No. 2 on its list of 50 “Greatest Sports Movies.” In July 2011, one of my favorite Web sites, The Art of Manliness (www.artofmanliness.com) included it on a list they called the “Essential Men’s Movie Library.” A year or so later, The Art of Manliness included “The Pride of the Yankees” on a list they called the “15 Best Baseball Movies.”
In the end, how many of you have watched “The Pride of the Yankees”? What did you think about it? Did you like it or not? What other baseball movies would you recommend? Let us know in the comments section below.