Northeastern University law professor Roger Abrams, who has authored several books on baseball history, spoke about why Gehrig’s speech still matters all these years later.

“He’s taken on mythic proportions,” he said. “Baseball really reflects American society, and in every myth, you need the tragic figure. And he, after just an extraordinary career, becomes the tragic figure of what had happened to America in the 1930s. A terrible decade of Depression. In some ways he suffered for us all. He was a representative of the American spirit even when faced with just extraordinary personal tragedy. He saw the glass as not just half full, it was overflowing. I think he was genuinely thankful for the opportunity he had.”