Nola brothers' uncle inspired Strike Out ALS event

January 20th, 2023

BATON ROUGE, La. -- Aaron and Austin Nola smiled Thursday as they talked about their uncle, Alan Andries.

He would have loved this.

He certainly loved them. He and his wife Maureen attended almost every baseball game the Nolas played at LSU. So much so that when Austin or Aaron could not spot them in their usual section at Alex Box Stadium, they asked their parents, A.J. and Stacie, where they were.

Alan died on Feb. 10, 2021, following a courageous six-year battle with amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), also known as Lou Gehrig’s Disease. Thursday, the Nola brothers hosted their second Strike Out ALS event at Red Stick Social, where donors bowled and rubbed elbows with the brothers who recently faced each other in the National League Championship Series.

“Our uncle was so positive,” Aaron said.

“He was so smart,” Austin said. “He loved to teach. Numbers, fixing things, financial things, he always had his head into something.”

“He could fix anything,” Aaron said. “He could solve any problem.”

So, in their way, the Nolas want to do their part to help solve ALS. They hope their event raises local awareness of the disease and raises money to fund some of the research that ultimately ends it. 

“We do it here, somebody else does it in the northwest, somebody else does it in the southwest,” Austin said. “Suddenly, wow, we’ve touched the whole country.”

June 2 is Lou Gehrig Day in Major League Baseball. It is a big day for the Nola family.

“Jackie Robinson Day got bigger and bigger over the years,” Aaron said. “Hopefully this is the same thing. Guys wearing Lou Gehrig cleats, jerseys, wristbands. Hopefully it gets bigger and bigger.”

Aaron first became familiar with ALS through the Phillies, who partnered with The ALS Association almost 40 years ago to become their primary charity. Around the time Aaron attended his first Phillies Phestival, which has donated millions to the ALS Association, Alan was diagnosed with the disease.

Alan attended the first Strike Out ALS event in 2020, just before the COVID-19 pandemic shut down the world.

“He had a smile on his face,” Austin said.

Maureen Andries beamed Thursday as she watched her big league nephews mingle with the crowd. She is the second of seven siblings. Aaron and Austin’s father, A.J., is the youngest.

The Nola family is very close.

“He just loved following the boys,” Maureen said. “Three years ago, Alan was in a wheelchair. He lost the ability to function independently, but he was so thrilled to be here. At the end, he could only move his finger. But the boys entertained us, night after night. If Austin wasn’t playing, Aaron was pitching. He could not wait for the games to come on TV.

“Alan was the most interesting man. He was a financial advisor for Morgan Stanley, but he could do anything. He could take a car apart and put it back together. He fixed things. He was the most vibrant and active person. He played tennis. He played golf. And then he gets this disease that he can’t do anything with. He was just the most brilliant, interesting man.”

When Alan died, Aaron and Austin could not attend the funeral in Baton Rouge. Aaron was in Clearwater, Fla., for Spring Training. He got the OK to move up his scheduled bullpen session so he could watch the services via FaceTime. Austin was in camp with the Padres in Arizona. He could not get away at all. He watched a recording of the service afterward on his phone.

“That’s why we’re doing it here,” Austin said. “We couldn’t be there, but we can figure out a way to make it mean something for everybody else.”

Alan Andries solved problems. Before he passed, he and Maureen talked about her future. Or, as he called it, her “fourth quarter.” She said she did not want to live in a big house with a pool anymore. She wanted to downsize and move closer to family.

Alan walked her through the process of buying a lot, and ultimately building a house upon it. Everything went smoothly. She is having another meeting with a contractor soon, and hopes to break ground after that.

The lot is on the same street where the Nola kids grew up, and where A.J. and Stacie still live. In fact, it’s right across the street. Maureen and A.J.’s brother Bubba lives on the street, too. So does a nephew.

It’s a street of Nolas.

“Isn’t it amazing?” Maureen said. “Alan had it all planned. He fixed everything for everybody. I miss the heck out of that.”

Everybody misses him. Thursday’s event was evidence of it. He inspired them, and now the Nola brothers hope to help others beat ALS.

“He appreciated it,” Aaron said of being at their first event a few years ago. “It’s a good cause. It’s not about us. It’s about raising money and trying to help people down the road. It’s about everybody pitching in at some point.”