Greatest Film Scenes
and Moments

The Pride of the Yankees (1942)


Written by Tim Dirks

Title Screen
Movie Title/Year and Scene Descriptions

The Pride of the Yankees (1942)

In director Sam Wood's and RKO's popular biographical ("biopic") baseball sports movie about Yankees sports hero Lou Gehrig (nicknamed "The Iron Horse"), following his life from his immigrant family roots, through his college days as a ballplayer and then to the big leagues:

  • the film's opening scrolling prologue written by newspaperman and short-story writer Damon Runyon: "This is the story of a hero of the peaceful paths of everyday life. It is the story of a gentle young man who, in the full flower of his great fame, was a lesson in simplicity and modesty to the youth of America. He faced death with that same valor and fortitude that has been displayed by thousands of young Americans on far-flung fields of battle. He left behind him a memory of courage and devotion that will ever be an inspiration to all men. This is the story of Lou Gehrig"
  • in an early sequence, Lou's strong-willed, old-fashioned and determined mother (Elsa Janssen), a cook at Columbia University, insisted that her young son Lou Gehrig (Douglas Croft as boy) plan on becoming an engineer like his university-educated Uncle Otto: "That's why I'm cooking at Columbia, so you can go there some day and be an engineer like your Uncle Otto," but Lou disagreed: "Mom, maybe I ain't cut out to be an engineer...." as he held up a baseball in his hand, however, he assented to her wishes: "Sure, Mom, sure. Whatever you want me to be"
  • as a Columbia University student, ballplayer Henry Lou Gehrig (Gary Cooper) hit a home run through a window of the school's Athletic Department; it startled sportswriter Sam Blake (Walter Brennan) and Jim who had their feet up on a desk behind the window; Blake was very impressed and thought he would be a great major league prospect: "I'm a newspaperman, Jim, and that sure was some wallop"

Baseball Hit Through Columbia University Window

Sportswriter Sam Blake Impressed by the "Wallop"
  • at a fraternity dance, when pretty and admiring co-ed Myra Tinsley (Virginia Gilmore) asked rising baseball star Gehrig about his plans as they sat on the staircase: "Tell me, do you just adore baseball?", he modestly described his career intentions completely dictated by his mother: "You see, I'm not gonna be a ball player. Mom wants me to be an engineer"; she flirtatiously responded: "You're going to do what your mother wants?...I think that's just adorable. Gonna be an old engineer that never gets his name in the paper. Just 'cause your mother wants you to. You're wonderful"
  • after student-waiter Gehrig was teased by frat boys about his overheard conversation regarding his career choices with Myra, he was at the same time befriended and approached by Evening Standard sportswriter Sam Blake at the fraternity's front door, who was described as "a man from the Yankees who is looking for you"; Gehrig thought he was continuing to be made fun of and ejected Blake out the front door: "Oh, you're trying to be funny, too?"; later on however, on the ballfield, he found out from his coach that Blake was legitimate and that the Yankees team was interested in him: "You don't have to play with the Yankees, but it's no insult to be asked"; he was soon secretly signed with the Yankees (but kept the news from his mother) - his intention was to help pay for her private hospital bills
  • Mom Gehrig discovered his career as a ballplayer, and expressed her utter disappointment in him: "That's why you studied, why you went to Columbia so that you could play baseball? After all my plans for you to follow after your Uncle Otto...You are good for nothing. All baseballers are good for nothing. Loafers in short pants"; she locked herself in her room, while he made a suggestion: "Why don't you come out some afternoon and watch me play so you can judge for yourself?" - she eventually acquiesced
  • stadium spectator Eleanor Twitchell (Teresa Wright) (nicknamed "the Hot Dog King's daughter") teasingly called rookie Gehrig a "Tanglefoot" when he stumbled over a row of bats in front of the dugout during a game at Chicago's Comiskey Park when he was called for his first appearance at bat - the name stuck: "Mr. Tanglefoot": (Eleanor: "I seem to have tied a label on that rookie"); shortly later in a Chicago restaurant, the Rathskeller, when Eleanor slipped on the floor near Gehrig, they officially met each other and both shared a laugh - she admitted: "All right, we're even"

Gehrig Tripping Over Bats on Ground in Front of Dugout

Eleanor's Nickname: "Tanglefoot"
  • Babe Ruth (as Himself) made a cameo appearance as rookie Gehrig's Yankee teammate; during a ride on the team's train, Gehrig played a prank on Ruth, and was caught taking bites out of Ruth's straw hat; after watching the prank on the train, rival sportsman Hank Hanneman (Dan Duryea) called Gehrig "the chump of all time" and "a boob with a batting eye"; sportswriter Sam Blake disagreed and praised Gehrig's simple, heroic and straight life: "Let me tell you about heroes, Hank. I've covered a lot of 'em, and I'm sayin' Gehrig is the best of 'em. No front-page scandals, no daffy excitements, no horn-piping in the spotlight...but a guy who does his job and nothing else. He lives for his job. He gets a lot of fun out of it. And fifty million other people get a lot of fun out of him, watching him do somethin' better than anybody else ever did it before...That's why I'm putting my money on Gehrig"
Two Different Opinions about Gehrig

Hank Hanneman: "The chump of all time"

Sam Blake: "The best of 'em"
  • Gehrig courted Eleanor, including taking her to an amusement park where he hit baseballs, won prizes, and loaded her up with a handful of stuffed animals
  • in a re-enacted scene, Gehrig visited a hospital to see an 8-year old crippled boy named Billy (Gene Collins); he told the young fan: "You know there isn't anything you can't do, if you try hard enough"; he was then challenged to promise to hit two home runs in the 1928 World Series game (against St. Louis) that afternoon for the boy, after Babe Ruth had already promised to hit one home run; Gehrig also required a promise from the boy: "You've got to promise me that one of these days, you're going to get out of bed and go home on your own power"
  • during the game, in the 9th inning, Gehrig was purposely being walked, but on his 4th pitch, he struck the ball and clobbered it into the outfield for his second home run to win the game; Billy was overwhelmed while listening on the radio
  • Gehrig and Eleanor were married by the Mayor of New Rochelle, NY, and then they sped off together to Yankee Stadium - with a motorcycle police escort, so Gehrig wouldn't miss batting practice or the game - to keep his consecutive record intact; at bat, he hit a home room and as he ran the bases, turned toward Eleanor in the stands and yelled: "That was a thank you for marrying me"
  • there was a montage of newspaper clippings and keepsakes in a LOU GEHRIG scrapbook created by Eleanor, marking the passage of time - Gehrig's Diploma, his days as a sports star at Columbia, "WHY THEY CALL HIM 'TANGLEFOOT'", LOU GEHRIG WEDS, BABE RUTH LEAVES YANKEES, LOU GEHRIG NAMED CAPTAIN OF YANKS, AND GEHRIG TO PLAY 2000TH CONSECUTIVE GAME TODAY
  • due to his uncurable and debilitating development of an incurable and lethal muscle-nerve disease known as amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) in his mid-30s, Gehrig slowly began to experience physical deterioration, including muscle weakness, lack of coordination, and slowness that affected his game play; he admitted to his manager that he couldn't bat: "You'd better send someone in for me. I-I can't make it anymore"
  • in a devastating scene, bad news (using baseball metaphors) was delivered by Lou Gehrig's doctor (Edward Fielding): Lou Gehrig: "Give it to me straight, Doc. Am I through with baseball?...Is it three strikes, Doc?" Clinic Doctor: "You want it straight?" Lou Gehrig: "Sure I do, straight." Clinic Doctor: "It's three strikes"; he then asked: "How much time have I got?", but the Doctor was interrupted and couldn't answer

Gehrig to Team's Manager: "I-I can't make it anymore"

"Am I through with baseball?"

"Is it three strikes, Doc?"
  • Gehrig insisted that Eleanor must never know: "I don't want Mrs. Gehrig to know, ever," but she immediately sensed that he had received a dire diagnosis and asked Sam Blake in private: "When is he going to die?"
  • in the film's conclusion, a tribute was planned now that Gehrig's playing career was over; as famed # 4 ball player Lou Gehrig, the New York Yankees first baseman and "Iron Horse" was entering the stadium, older 17 year-old Billy (David Holt) stopped Gehrig and told him that he had made a full recovery after being inspired by his hero: ("I did what you said. I tried hard, and I made it. Look, I can walk"); Gehrig congratulated him: "That's great work, kid! That's wonderful"
  • the climax of the film - Gehrig's delivery of a famous heart-tugging, July 4th, 1939 farewell accompanied by his supportive and tearful wife Eleanor, who stood in the dark tunnel leading to the infield and watched (and sobbed) as he strode onto the field to be honored in a major ceremony for his amazing career as a ballplayer
Gehrig's Farewell Speech
  • during his delivery of the speech at a microphone at home plate (that echoed throughout Yankee Stadium with 62,000 in attendance, he gave a final and sad farewell after 16 years and 2,130 consecutive games: ("I have been walking on ballfields for 16 years, and I've never received anything but kindness and encouragement from you fans. I have had the great honor to have played with these great veteran ballplayers on my left - Murderers Row, our championship team of 1927. I have had the further honor of living with and playing with these men on my right - the Bronx Bombers, the Yankees of today. I have been given fame and undeserved praise by the boys up there behind the wire in the press box - my friends, the sports writers. I have worked under the two greatest managers of all time, Miller Huggins and Joe McCarthy. I have a mother and father who fought to give me health and a solid background in my youth. I have a wife, a companion for life, who has shown me more courage than I ever knew. 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. (Applause)")
  • the film's last image was of Gehrig walking slowly by himself (away from the camera) and back to the dugout, to disappear from baseball forever; one could hear the umpire in the background cry out: "Play ball!" as the film ended
Film's Final Images

Scrolling Prologue

Young Lou Gehrig's Early Argument with His Mother About Becoming an Engineer

Gehrig to Myra: "I'm not gonna be a ballplayer"

Gehrig to Sportswriter Blake ("Oh, you're trying to be funny too!")

Gehrig Promoted by Blake To Play for the Yankees

Mrs. Gehrig's Disappointment in Her Son

First Official Introduction of Eleanor with Gehrig

Straw-Hat Prank Played by Gehrig on Babe Ruth on Train

Courtship with Eleanor

Billy Listening on Radio as His Hero Hit Two Home Runs in the 1928 World Series

Marriage of Lou to Eleanor

Eleanor's Scrapbook Clippings of Memories

17 year-old Billy's Thank You to Gehrig

Gehrig's Walk onto the Ballfield - Eleanor Stayed Behind


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