Based on the 1976 autobiography My Luke and I by Eleanor Gehrig and Joseph Durso, Love Affair: The Eleanor & Lou Gehrig Story provides a slightly different slant on the events previously dramatized on film as Pride of the Yankees (1942). The story is told in flashback from the point of view of the wife of baseball's "Iron Man". Sitting in a deserted Yankee stadium, Eleanor (Blythe Danner) relates her tale to her biographer Joseph Durso (Robert Burr). She recalls how she met the painfully shy ballplayer Lou Gehrig (Edward Herrmann) on a blind date in 1933. She remembers her battle of wills with Lou's domineering and possessive mother (played with a nearly impenetrable foreign accent by Patricia Neal), and her 1934 elopement with her "Luke." Other memories include the New York Yankees' goodwill trip to Japan, where relationships became strained between teammates Gehrig and Babe Ruth (Ramon Bieri). Also recalled is the fact that Lou played 2130 consecutive games (a record was only recently broken by Cal Ripken Jr.). Eleanor's story ends inevitably with Lou's slow death from amyotropic lateral sclerosis. In summing up, Eleanor insists that despite the tragic final years, she wouldn't have traded her short time as Mrs. Lou Gehrig for anything. Edward Herrmann took pride in the fact that his portrayal of Lou Gehrig won the unqualified praise of the real Eleanor (though Herrmann learned to bat southpaw for the role, he is seen actually playing baseball only once) Originally scheduled for broadcast on October 9, 1977, the made-for-TV Love Affair was bumped by a World Series playoff game; it was rescheduled for January 15, 1978--smack dab opposite the Super Bowl.
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