Be the ‘luckiest man … on the face of the earth’ and catch this Yankees classic

During the coronavirus shutdown, each day we will bring you a recommendation from The Post’s Peter Botte for a sports movie, TV show or book that perhaps was before your time or somehow slipped between the cracks of your viewing/reading history.

THE PRIDE OF THE YANKEES (1942)

Streaming: Amazon Prime

We all know the speech by heart. We all know the impact of the disease that ultimately bore his name.

Barely one year after Lou Gehrig’s death from the motor-neuron disease amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), the heartbreaking story of his life became the second sports movie ever (after the 1931 boxing flick “The Champ”) to earn an Academy Award nomination for Best Picture.

Screen legend Gary Cooper wasn’t a convincing ballplayer but was nominated for Best Actor for his portrayal of the Iron Horse, as was Theresa Wright as his wife Eleanor. (Wright actually won Best Supporting Actress that year for Mrs. Miniver, the Best Picture winner).

MGM

Yankees teammates Babe Ruth, Bill Dickey, Bob Meusel and Mark Koenig played themselves in the film, which takes us from Gehrig’s days at Columbia University, his relationship with his immigrant parents and Eleanor, his early clashes with Ruth, his then-record consecutive games streak and finally through his poignant “luckiest man” speech months after receiving his fateful medical diagnosis.

The baseball scenes aren’t particularly impressive and there are a few historical inaccuracies dismissed as artistic license, but the heartrending “The Pride of the Yankees” ranks third on the American Film Institute’s all-time list of best sports movies, behind only prior recommendations “Raging Bull” and “Rocky.”

Quote of Note: “Today … I consider myself … the luckiest man … on the face of the Earth.” — Gary Cooper as Lou Gehrig.

Botte Blows: 4.6 of 5

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