Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Pride of the Yankees - Review

I owe this one to my friend, Bruce.  Pride of the Yankees, considered one of the best sports movies in history, tells the poignant story of Lou Gehrig. 
Gehrig was an all around athlete, but he was also a socially awkward Momma's boy.  His mom strongly pushed him to pursue a career in engineering.  Despite his outstanding success in sports, especially baseball, Gehrig reluctantly agrees to fulfill his mother's dreams instead of his own. 
However, when his mom becomes ill and the family can't pay the hospital bills, Gehrig signs on with the Yankees.  His mom resists Gehrig's initial success, saying she wishes she had died instead of Gehrig wasting his life in baseball.  However, after he becomes one of the best baseball players of all time, even his mom comes around and acknowledges the value of Gehrig pursuing his dreams and doing what he does best.
Gehrig led the Yankees to several World Series, won a host of batting crowns, and set many records that stood for decades.  His most famous achievement was playing in 2,130 consecutive games - despite illness or injury.  That record was only broken in 1995. 
Gehrig's sudden decline is a poignant picture of how disease can take down our strongest lions.  In the height of his career, Gehrig, suddenly and unexplainably slumped.  He lost his power, his speed, and his coordination.  Finally, when he realized he could no longer help his team, he sat down.  The doctors confirmed that he had a life-ending neural disease.  His nerves were basically shutting down - slowly decreasing his control over his exceptional body.
Through it all Gehrig operated with a quiet humility and confidence, which warms my heart and inspires me to follow.  He didn't make much of his success, and he didn't make much of his decline.  He just did his job, used his outstanding gifts, and sat down when it was over.  Also noteworthy is his beautiful relationship with Eleanor, his wifely anchor and friend.
This is a simple, but profound movie.  The Josh rating: JJJJ.

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