Piscottys play key role in 1st Lou Gehrig Day

June 1st, 2021

SEATTLE -- A’s outfielder  and his father, Mike, have been on a mission to increase awareness for the disease known as ALS. On Wednesday, the momentum behind those efforts will take a huge step forward with MLB’s inaugural Lou Gehrig Day.

The materialization of this special day was the result of a major push by the LG4Day committee, a group that included Piscotty’s father. Finding a cure for the disease is a cause to which Mike has dedicated his life after Stephen’s mother, Gretchen, died of ALS in May 2018.

“I’ve gotta give him a lot of props for working so hard,” Stephen said. “I know he’s going to be excited. He’s been working hard and it’s awesome to see some of these things come to life and become reality.”

The June 2 date for Lou Gehrig Day carries historical significance. It’s the date in 1941 that the Yankees legend passed away due to the disease at the age of 37. With the A’s playing a series against the Mariners at T-Mobile Park, Piscotty’s father and brother, Nick, will both be attending the game in Seattle.

Mike will take part in a special pregame presentation that highlights his work in creating ALS CURE Project, an organization that focuses on leadership and sponsors scientific research in developing a cure for ALS.

When the A’s return from their current seven-game road trip, ALS CURE Project will host its first-ever golf tournament, taking place on Monday at Orinda Country Club in Orinda, Calif. Several of Piscotty’s teammates are scheduled to participate in the event, including Matt Olson, Jake Diekman, Jesús Luzardo, Sean Manaea, Cole Irvin, Chris Bassitt, Mike Fiers, Chad Pinder and Trevor Rosenthal. Information on how to register for the event can be found at alscure.net.

“We hoped to have a tournament last year, but with COVID, we had to shut a lot of things down,” Piscotty said. “So we’re making this the first inaugural. Really awesome to get the support from my teammates. That itself is a really special thing for me -- to have them there and show their support. We’ve been planning and working hard to get this up and running. Hopefully, it’ll be a great event.”

The A’s will also celebrate Lou Gehrig Day at the Oakland Coliseum on June 8 with their annual ALS Awareness Day. For their game against the D-backs that night, A’s players, coaches and on-field personnel will wear 4ALS wristbands and jersey patches. All field-level tickets sold for that game will have $10 donated to the ALS CURE Project.

Piscotty acknowledged that the ongoing fight against ALS is still a steep hill to climb. It’s a disease that, despite affecting millions of patients and families, does not receive nearly as much funding and awareness as other fatal diseases. That’s why he’s hopeful that Lou Gehrig Day can create a bigger conversation around ALS.

“It can be very daunting to look at the whole picture,” Piscotty said. “That’s one thing my dad has worked very hard at. The core foundation of our charity is attacking the problem holistically and looking at the steps that need to be done. Those steps can be overwhelming, but I think outlining it is the first step.

“Looking at certain things you can check off and put your effort towards will put us on that journey to one day finding a cure. It’s a tall task, but it’s one worth taking.”

It’s going to take a mass collaborative effort to reach that ultimate goal of a cure. Between the work put in by the Piscottys and the backing of Major League Baseball, attaining that goal now appears a lot more promising.

“We think collaboration, especially in this ALS space, is paramount,” Piscotty said. “With limited resources and awareness, the organizations that are in play need to work together towards a common goal. That’s something we’re striving for. There are two parts to this fight: There’s the care aspect and the cure aspect. Hopefully, both can be addressed in this whole thing.

“There’s a lot of people that know it’s a fatal disease, but might not know the details. I think in the details is where you realize there really needs to be something done. It is a cruel disease. That’s what the campaign is all about. Push this and get the conversation going.”