The campaign for a league-wide annual Lou Gehrig Day recently received a major boost as all 30 Major League Baseball (MLB) teams endorsed an effort to honor the late New York Yankees star first baseman and raise awareness of amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS).
Lou Gehrig Day has been proposed for June 2, to be celebrated annually.
According to a blog post by the ALS Association, written by the ad hoc Lou Gehrig Day Committee, each of the MLB teams have joined in an effort, begun last summer, to have a day set aside to honor Gehrig, who died at age 37 in 1941 due to ALS, now also known as Lou Gehrig’s disease.
The date the committee is proposing, June 2, is the day in 1925 that Gehrig began his record-breaking consecutive games streak — 2,130 in all, over 14 years — and later, also the day he died. Ideally, all players, coaches, managers, and umpires would wear a 4ALS patch, according to the committee, and there would be an on-field ceremony honoring Gehrig and everyone affected by ALS.
“We are hard at work to finish our campaign and ensure that there is an official Lou Gehrig Day in baseball next season and every season,” the blog post states.
The committee, made up of ALS patients, caregivers, and family members, has been meeting weekly for the last year to push for an official Lou Gehrig Day in baseball. The group also includes the families of current MLB players Stephen Piscotty of the Oakland Athletics, who lost his mother to ALS, and Sam Hilliard of the Colorado Rockies, whose father has the progressive neurodegenerative disease.
News of the league-wide endorsement, however, was bittersweet to committee members. Before they could make the announcement, they learned of the sudden passing of campaign co-founder Bryan Wayne Galentine, who lived with ALS for three years. The committee had just met with Galentine, whom they called “BWayne,” the day before.
“It’s a harsh reminder of why we fight and will continue to push to make Lou Gehrig Day a reality,” the blog post states. “ALS reminded us why it is such a cruel and unrelenting beast.”
Earlier that week, a few team presidents had sent a note to their colleagues to request support for the campaign. The note was accompanied by a letter from Adam Wilson, the campaign’s other co-founder, who was diagnosed with ALS five years ago, informing the teams of Galentine’s death. Soon afterward, notes of support from other team presidents poured in, and the number of team endorsements rose that day from eight to 24. By the next day, all 30 teams were on board.
In its post, the committee emphasized that, should a Lou Gehrig Day come to be, all of the MLB teams — many of whom support ALS organizations and hold ALS Awareness games — would be encouraged to continue such efforts.
“From the bottom of our mourning hearts we thank everyone who has supported our effort thus far, and we look forward to joining the entire baseball community in honoring Lou Gehrig and everyone affected by ALS in 2021!” the post states. “Let’s do it for Lou. Let’s do it for BWayne.”
Go here to learn more about the campaign.
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