Dedicated Date on the Championship Season Calendar Will Forever Commemorate Legacy of the Hall of Famer Who Has Inspired the Ongoing Movement to End ALS
Lou Gehrig Day Will Serve As Cause for Remembrance, Awareness and Celebration
Major League Baseball today announced the inaugural “Lou Gehrig Day,” which will be celebrated throughout the League during the 2021 Championship Season on Wednesday, June 2nd. Henceforth on this date, Gehrig will join fellow Baseball Legends Jackie Robinson and Roberto Clemente as the only players whose legacies are celebrated annually with dedicated, league-wide days.
June 2nd was specifically chosen as the date for Lou Gehrig Day as it marks when Gehrig became the Yankees starting first baseman, thus cementing the start of his incredible streak of consecutive games played, as well as the day he passed from complications of Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS), otherwise known as Lou Gehrig’s disease. The focus of Lou Gehrig Day will be on three pillars: (1) remembering the legacy of Gehrig and all those lost to the disease that bears his name; (2) raising awareness and funds for research of ALS; and (3) celebrating the groups and individuals who have led the pursuit for cures. This special occasion follows a campaign led by the “Lou Gehrig Day Committee” (www.lg4day.com), which is comprised of individuals, family and friends affected by ALS, as well as organizations leading the way on awareness and fundraising for the movement to end the disease.
Commissioner of Baseball Robert D. Manfred, Jr. said: “Major League Baseball is thrilled to celebrate the legacy of Lou Gehrig, whose humility and courage continue to inspire our society. While ALS has been closely identified with our game since Lou’s legendary career, the pressing need to find cures remains. We look forward to honoring all the individuals and families, in baseball and beyond, who have been affected by ALS and hope Lou Gehrig Day advances efforts to end this disease.”
Stephen Piscotty, Oakland Athletics outfielder, said: “Lou Gehrig Day will honor Lou’s accomplishments on the field, but also help millions understand this devastating disease that has claimed far too many of us, including my mother. Before she passed, she did everything she could to raise awareness of ALS and I know she’d be thrilled that Major League Baseball will now shine a spotlight on Lou Gehrig and ALS every season. Hopefully this awareness will help lead to a cure.”
Sam Hilliard, Colorado Rockies outfielder, said: “Lou Gehrig was a legend on the field, but also because of the grace with which he handled his diagnosis of ALS. My father is currently fighting ALS and he continues to inspire me and all those around him. Lou Gehrig Day will be a celebration of all those living with ALS and their loved ones, but also a call to action to help us find a cure for ALS.”
Jacob Nottingham, Milwaukee Brewers catcher, said: “ALS has touched my life negatively in so many ways. Six members of my family were taken much too early from this dreaded disease. I stand with other families across the globe in praying for a cure. Together, we can fight this and ultimately find that cure.”
On Lou Gehrig Day, each home Club will host ceremonies and display “4-ALS” logos in ballparks, commemorating Gehrig’s uniform number “4.” Additionally, all players, managers and coaches will wear a special “Lou Gehrig Day” patch on uniforms while red “4-ALS” wristbands will be available to be worn in-game. Clubs with an off-day on June 2nd will observe Lou Gehrig Day on June 3rd. Additional ceremonial and activation details around Lou Gehrig Day, which will be organized in part with the Lou Gehrig Day Committee, will be announced at a later date.
Baseball has had a long-standing commitment to supporting the movement to end ALS, including commemorations on July 4th – the anniversary of Gehrig’s famous “Luckiest Man Alive” retirement speech – as well as annual in-ballpark recognitions throughout the month of August, which is ALS Awareness Month. Previous efforts have included:
- In 2019, MLB and all 30 MLB Clubs raised funds through the annual Winter Meetings Charity Auction to benefit five ALS organizations – ALS CURE Project, Healey Center for ALS at Mass General, The ALS Association, Project Main Street, and ALS Therapy Development Institute.
- In 2017, MLB supported the ALS Association’s “Home Health Initiative” through the MLB Fights ALS campaign, which was a league-wide fundraising effort in early August of that year. Beginning with an initial contribution from Major League Baseball, the effort sought to generate additional funds for the Home Health Initiative, which helps provide in-home care to individuals and families affected by ALS.
- In 2014, MLB, its Clubs and its players supported the wave of millions of dollars raised through the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge, which led to new discoveries that have advanced the search for cures.
- In 2009, MLB formed the initial “4-ALS” charitable campaign to raise funds for four ALS organizations and to commemorate the 70th anniversary of Gehrig’s retirement speech.
- Historically, MLB and Clubs have supported several ALS-focused organizations in raising funds and general awareness of the disease.
ALS is a fatal neurodegenerative disease that can strike anyone at any time. People with ALS lose the ability to control their muscles, which affects their ability to walk, talk, eat, and eventually breathe. There are an estimated 20,000-30,000 people living with ALS. There is no significant treatment to extend life or cure ALS, but there are currently several potential treatments in late-stage clinical trials.
Affectionately known as the “Iron Horse,” Lou Gehrig is one of the greatest players in all of baseball history. On June 2, 1925, Gehrig became the Yankees starting first baseman on his way to his legendary streak of 2,130 consecutive games played, which ended on April 30, 1939 and would stand for more than 60 years. Gehrig’s career is highlighted with two American League Most Valuable Player (MVP) Awards, a Triple Crown, six World Series championships, seven All-Star appearances and the 1934 batting title. His farewell speech to the baseball world on July 4, 1939, amid the struggles of a debilitating disease, displayed the humanity and grace that has become synonymous with his legacy. He was elected to the National Baseball Hall of Fame in December 1939. Gehrig succumbed to ALS on June 2, 1941.
Adam Wilson, Lou Gehrig Day Committee Co-Chair, Cincinnati Reds Fan, Diagnosed with ALS in 2015:
“I have long been a fan of Lou Gehrig the player. Now, I’m also a fan of him as a man and as the namesake of my disease. I’m proud to represent him as well as the entire ALS community as Lou Gehrig Day becomes a permanent fixture on the MLB calendar!”
Chuck Haberstroh, Lou Gehrig Day Committee Co-Chair, Son of Patty Living with ALS, Boston Red Sox Fan:
“The most rewarding project of my life has been the lg4day initiative. I am so proud of what we'vebeen able to accomplish thus far...but the best is yet to come: we will honor Lou Gehrig’s legacy by finding cures and treatments to finally end ALS.”
Tamara Hext Hilliard, Lou Gehrig Day Committee, Co-Founder of Team Hilliard ALS, Mom of Rockies OF Sam Hilliard, Colorado Rockies Fan:
“I am excited to see MLB continue to advocate for ALS and honor the great Lou Gehrig. As I care for my husband, Jim, I will continue to be involved with ALS awareness efforts and the quest for a cure, both locally and nationally. I am proud to say that the Colorado Rockies were the first team to support Lou Gehrig Day, back in October 2019!”
Mike Piscotty, Lou Gehrig Day Committee, President of ALS CURE Project, Dad of A’s OF Stephen Piscotty:
“I believe Lou Gehrig’s sentiments as he said, ‘You don’t get the breaks unless you play with the team instead of against it.’ ALS is a curable disease if we work together in a coordinated manner to achieve breakthroughs following the collaboratively developed ‘Roadmap to Cure ALS.’ I look forward to the day when we have cured ALS and we celebrate Lou Gehrig the man, the leader and baseball player, and not Lou Gehrig who had the deadly ALS disease."
Brian Frederick, Ph.D., Lou Gehrig Day Committee, Senior Vice President of The ALS Association, Washington Nationals Fan:
“The people living with ALS, family members, and caregivers who have driven this campaign have inspired both the ALS and baseball communities. Thank you to Major League Baseball and all 30 teams for their efforts to help us strike out ALS. Baseball fans around the world will now learn more about Lou Gehrig, ALS, and this amazing community of people living with ALS and their loved ones.”
Phil Green, Lou Gehrig Day Committee, Diagnosed with ALS in 2018, Seattle Mariners Fan:
“It has been an honor to be part of such a passionate team that has taken the dream of a Lou Gehrig Day and turned it into a reality. The LG4Day Committee learned from previous efforts for a Lou Gehrig Day and put together the Perfect Pitch to honor one of the greatest baseball players of all time while raising awareness of the incredibly cruel disease that shortened his career.”
John and Nancy Frates:
“On the night of his ALS diagnosis, our son Pete set a vision. Part of that vision was to have MLB embrace one of its icons and the disease that took his life. So, today we celebrate. We celebrate Lou Gehrig, his amazing accomplishments and his inspiring legacy. We celebrate our ALS patients for their extraordinary courage and grace in the face of tremendous adversity. And we celebrate hope, hope for our ALS community, who by MLB’s honor, continue to surround themselves with the hope that one day we will conquer this disease.”
Pat Quinn Sr.:
“As a fierce advocate for ALS awareness, Pat was proud and honored to be an active supporter of plans for Lou Gehrig Day. We are pleased to see this celebration come to fruition, and we hope that this day across Major League Baseball will inspire everyone to come together in the fight against ALS.”
Jon Sciambi, Chicago Cubs broadcaster with Marquee Sports Network and MLB Broadcaster with ESPN:
“As we honor one of the game’s greatest players and men, we also continue the battle against ALS. I am so grateful to Major League Baseball for picking up this fight. Since losing my friend, Tim Sheehy, to ALS in 2007, this has been a very personal cause for me. I am all in for LG4Day.”
Cal Ripken, Jr., Hall of Famer:
“I am thrilled that Major League Baseball is using its reach and influence to honor Lou’s legacy while, at the same time, raising awareness of ALS and the need for a cure. Because of my streak, I have always been tied to Lou, and I always considered that to be a tremendous honor as he is one of the game’s all-time greats. This is a wonderful initiative and I am proud to be a small part of it.”
Jane Forbes Clark, Chairman, National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum:
“For more than 80 years, Lou Gehrig’s legacy has played a significant role in building the character of our National Pastime. The Museum has been entrusted with the preservation of this legacy through generous donations of important artifacts that bring to life, and preserve, his heroic performances, inspiring sportsmanship, and his unmatched legacy of incredible courage. We honor Lou Gehrig, not only in our Hall of Fame and throughout the Museum’s exhibit areas, but also within our educational programming, where we use the example of his life to teach future generations important lessons of character.”
- ALS is a fatal neurodegenerative disease that can strike anyone at any time. People with ALS lose the ability to control their muscles, which affects their ability to walk, talk, eat, and eventually breathe.
- ALS is a disease that attacks cells in the body that control movement. It makes the brain stop talking to the muscles, causing increased paralysis over time.
- Right now, there is no cure for ALS – people who are diagnosed with it will die.
- There are an estimated 20,000-30,000 people living with ALS in the U.S.
- Every year, over 5,000 people are diagnosed with ALS and 5,000 people die from ALS.
- More than 60% of Americans know nothing about ALS, such as the fact that it is always fatal.
- Though the reasons aren’t yet known, veterans are twice as likely to be diagnosed with ALS than non-veterans.
ALS RESEARCH FACTS
- Currently, there are only two drugs approved to treat ALS, though neither extends life in a significant way.
- In the U.S., there are currently at least 5 potential treatments in phase 3 trials and at least 15 in phase 2 trials.