Farewell to Baseball Analysis Essay

Lou Gehrig, shortly after learning of a deathly disease that he had acquired, said his final goodbye to professional baseball on July 4th, 1939 during Lou Gehric appreciation day in Yankee Staduim in a short and simple speech that conveyed to the audience his feelings of awe towards what he had been able to do and with whom and luck with what he still had, while simultaneously inspiring his listeners to appreciate what they had by using the rhetorical devices of ethos, pathos, and parallel structure.

Gehrig establishes ethos early on in his speech. By stating that he had been “in the ballparks for seventeen years,” the audience is made aware of the fact that Gehrig is no amateur when it comes to the American pastime. By establishing his credibility early on in the speech, those who didn’t know very much of him would thus be convinced that he knew what he was talking about (although it was unlikely that one wouldn’t know of Lou Gehrig).

When Gehric states that “it was an honor to have known Jacob Rupper,… Ed Barrow,… Miller Huggins,… [and] Joe McCarthy,” he is once again establishing ethos with the audience by conveying to them the past knowledge that he has of the game, how involved he is and has been, and the impact that the friendships of these great men have had on him. The impact that his establishment of ethos has on the speech is that is conveys the feelings of awe for who he had been able to work with and it served to make the speech more believable – not just empty words.

Pathos is utilized in Gehrig’s Farewell to Baseball speech when he begins talking about his “wonderful mother-in-law,” his “father and mother,” and his “wife who has been a tower of strength.” By bringing in his family, Gehrig causes others to relate directly to his predicament by forcing the audience to mentally juxtapose his family with their own, creating rising emotion in many. Gehrig uses “you” many times, furthering the mental juxtaposition of the audience’s families and his, causing his listeners to think about how their own fathers and mothers have worked hard for them, how their own mother-in-laws can be amazing, and how their own beloved wives can “show more courage than [one] ever dreamed existed.” By utilizing pathos in his speech and being broad with his descriptions, Gehrig is able to further the connection between himself and his audience and makes them realize how they also have the “American Dream.”

Parallel structure is displayed in the written forms of Gehrig’s Farewell to Baseball speech. The body of the speech wholly consists of parallel structure sentences written in a way that offset each other to create a list that becomes increasingly better – showing the progression of respect and love from his mother-in-law to his parents to his wife, whom he loves the most. Beginning with “when you have…,” Gehrig makes a rhetorical statement to his audience saying that when one has the things that he has, they are the “luckiest [people] on the face of the earth.” Gehrig, by utilizing parallel structure in his speech, is able to express his feelings of luck for what he still has to his audience while simultaneously urging his audience to appreciate their own families by stating how his own are so wonderful, why he appreciates them even in his time of bad luck, and how they’ve been there to support him throughout his life.

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