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In this Lesson, you will analyze the structure of a short speech, Lou Gehrig’s “Farewell to Baseball,” and submit your outline for the Rhetorical Situation speech activity.


This lesson’s assignment has two parts. Please be sure to complete both parts in a single Word document and submit it to complete the assignment.

  • In the first part, you will assess a short speech in terms of its organization and structure.
  • In the second part, you will create and submit a preparation outline and bibliography for your Rhetorical Situation speech and will identify the strategies you have incorporated in your outline. Before creating your outline, you will need to consult Chapters 9–11 in your textbook for instruction on organizing main points; developing introductions, conclusions, and transitions; and correctly formatting a presentation outline. Refer to the preparation work you have done for the Rhetorical Situation speech in previous lessons and incorporate your instructor’s comments and suggestions. A shell for your outline is provided herePreview the documentView in a new window. Please note that the shell is based on textbook instruction and can be used for any speech, any assignment, any occasion—you must adjust it so that it conforms to the requirements for the Rhetorical Situation speech assignment. The outline and bibliography should be formatted in a Microsoft Word document.

Keep in mind that this is the first of two outlines you will be completing for the Rhetorical Situation assignment. The preparation outline is very detailed, written in complete sentences, and helps to develop a clear organizational structure for your speech, as well as evaluate the effectiveness of your message, introduction, and conclusion. When delivering your actual speech, you should have prepared and used a presentation/speaking outline, which is brief, contains keywords, and is used as a memory aid during delivery.

Part I: Analyze the “Farewell to Baseball” Speech

On July 4, 1939, Yankee First Baseman Lou Gehrig gave a short speech of farewell during retirement ceremonies at Yankee Stadium in New York City. In terms of the rhetorical situation, the speaker produced a fitting response that eliminated the exigence in that situation. In any ceremony, of course, it is customary for the guest of honor to make a few remarks and the speaker eliminates that exigence just by saying something. Lou Gehrig, however, perceived an additional exigence: sadness among baseball fans. He reduced that exigence in giving his speech.

A rhetorical analysis of the speech begins with the historical context: Lou Gehrig had set a record for the number of consecutive games played in U.S. major-league baseball, but he suddenly quit playing for health reasons. The occasion was “Lou Gehrig Day,” a ceremony held at the stadium prior to a game to commemorate the career of the retiring ballplayer. The audience included spectators, other players, team and league officials, workers, and radio listeners. The speaker was a professional athlete who, not as comfortable with sportswriters as his teammate Babe Ruth had been, had not planned to speak until his wife convinced him that he should. The speech was short, extemporaneous, and reflected gratitude. But this only recounts the facts about the speech without accounting for the constraints and opportunities from each element that the speaker was able to use to make the speech a fitting response that reduced the exigence.

In this rhetorical situation, the occasion provided the speaker with constraints and resources. He was obliged to speak, given the conventions of such occasions, and was in uniform at a public gathering in a place where people were used to seeing him. As such, the occasion requires a somewhat formal ceremonial speech that reflects on the shared values of the community in a public, rather than private, gathering. In a familiar setting, the occasion gave a somewhat shy man a comfortable space in which to speak. The audience would expect a speech that was short, graceful, and respectful of shared values that would address their feelings appropriately but not overshadow the baseball game. The audience provided respectful attention and a heightened emotional register for the speaker, which gave his speech a purpose: he spoke to eliminate the emotional exigence of sadness. The speaker, who had attended Columbia University in the engineering program (on a baseball scholarship), was an uncomfortable public speaker, but he had a strong sense of responsibility. His intelligence and determination sustained him in a time that was difficult personally, professionally, and publicly. The speech had to be short, emotional without being weepy, prepared but heartfelt, and appropriate to the occasion in its ideas, structure, and language. The speech drew on the resources and accommodated the constraints of each element in the rhetorical situation to be a fitting response that achieved its purpose.

Lou Gehrig’s “Farewell to Baseball” provides us with an opportunity to consider the critical roles of speakers, citizen-critics, and rhetorical critics. As speakers, we can learn from the speech, as it is an example of several of the principles of public speaking that we have developed in this course; we can consider these whenever we speak on ceremonial occasions. As citizen-critics, we can listen for the shared values of the community reflected in the speech, consider their merits, and think about how we would respond as the next speaker to attempt a fitting response, either reinforcing and extending the values or modifying and revising them depending on the new exigence. As rhetorical critics, we can analyze the speech itself; for this lesson, we will focus on the structure of the speech.

After you view and read the speech (Links to an external site.)Links to an external site., identify the ideas and values that make up the propositional content of the speech. Then, consider the structure. The speech does not follow all of the advice given by the Zarefsky textbook, of course; ceremonial speeches often privilege resonance of ideas over clarity of expression, and Gehrig’s speech does not contain all of the functions of an introduction, conclusion, or transition that you will be expected to use in your speech—just most of them. In your rhetorical situation, the constraints and opportunities for your speech assignment include using the strategies and tactics for structure in the textbook. Using those strategies, analyze the structure of Lou Gehrig’s “Farewell to Baseball” in an essay of 300–400 words:

  • What are the values expressed in the body of the speech?
  • In terms of the organizational patterns discussed in Chapter 9, how is the body of the speech arranged?
  • In terms of the tactics discussed in Chapter 10, what functions of the introduction and conclusion are present in the speech?
  • How does the structure of the speech manage the constraints and resources?

Part II: Outlining Your Rhetorical Situation Speech Assignment

Using the outline shellPreview the documentView in a new window provided, complete a full-sentence preparation outline for your Rhetorical Situation speech. Be sure to organize the body of the speech so that the pattern of the main points contributes to the persuasiveness of your argument. Typically, an analysis of the rhetorical situation for a speech begins with historical context and ends with the speech itself, but this is not necessary. Even so, it is part of the art of being a speaker to decide the most persuasive pattern for the remaining main points in the body of your speech. Be sure to fulfill all of the functions of the introduction and conclusion, to include transitions, and to provide a complete bibliography and endnotes in the style you are most familiar with (such as APA, MLA, or Chicago).

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