In an effort to raise awareness and financial support for organizations leading the fight against ALS (Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis), otherwise known as Lou Gehrig’s Disease, every Major League Baseball Club playing at home on July 4th will conduct a special on-field ceremony to commemorate Lou Gehrig’s Yankee Stadium farewell speech. During these special ceremonies, all Clubs will honor Gehrig’s memory by recreating part of his “Luckiest Man” speech (Excerpt after the break).
“Seventy years ago, Lou Gehrig delivered an impassioned speech that has become part of American History,” said Baseball Commissioner Allan H. (Bud) Selig. “Major League Baseball is proud to devote the Fourth of July to Lou Gehrig and the disease that bears his name. We are pleased to have this opportunity to help find a cure for ALS and help those who are suffering from the disease.”
The New York Yankees will host a special “4♦ALS Awareness” ceremony at Yankee Stadium prior to their 1:00 p.m. (ET) game against the Toronto Blue Jays. During the pre-game ceremony, the Yankees will recognize Michael Goldsmith, a lifelong baseball fan who contributed to the development of the “4♦ALS” initiative.
“Seventy years after Lou Gehrig’s farewell speech, no cure exists for ALS,” said Goldsmith. “Doctors have no real way even to slow its devastating progression. Because research for a cure is still in its infancy, defeating ALS will require the same determination that Lou Gehrig and Cal Ripken, Jr. demonstrated in setting records for consecutive games played. I live for the day when all ALS patients can give you a standing ovation for fighting this fight with us.”
On July 4th all on-field personnel, including players, coaches, umpires and groundskeepers will wear a “4♦ALS” patch. In addition, to honor Gehrig, who played first base with the Yankees for 17 years, a special “4♦ALS” logo will appear on top of first base in each ballpark. Authenticated first bases from the July 4th games will be auctioned off at a later date on MLB.com to raise additional funds for ALS. A special “4♦ALS” video was created for Clubs playing at home on July 4th.
In addition, individual Clubs will support the ALS cause on July 4th. For example, American Idol Finalist Michael Johns will perform the National Anthem prior to the Baltimore Orioles vs. Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim game; the Philadelphia Phillies have raised over $865,000 for ALS this year alone; and the Minnesota Twins are one of many Clubs that have donated a suite for ALS families.
In support of the “4♦ALS” initiative, MLB Network will air an edition of “Studio 42 with Bob Costas” featuring an interview with Cal Ripken, Jr. on July 5th at 8:00 p.m. (ET) followed by the Academy Award-winning movie, “The Pride of the Yankees” at 9:00 p.m. (ET). (see video promo and other details)
MLB.com has established an online community at http://mlb4als.mlblogs.com, where representatives of the four organizations working with Major League Baseball, as well as others impacted by ALS, are collaborating to share stories, research and further opportunities to unite in support of ALS. The four leading organizations working with MLB on the on the “4♦ALS” campaign are: The ALS Association, ALS TDI, MDA’s Augie’s Quest and Project A.L.S. ALS destroys the nerve cells controlling muscles, ultimately causing complete paralysis. The average life expectancy is three to five years after diagnosis.
The ALS Association is a non-profit organization fighting Lou Gehrig’s Disease on every front. Through global research, providing assistance for people with ALS via a nationwide network of chapters, coordinating multidisciplinary care through certified clinical care centers, and fostering government partnerships, The ALS Association builds hope and enhances quality of life while aggressively searching for new treatments and a cure.
The ALS Therapy Development Institute (ALS TDI) has a single mission-to develop therapeutics that slow and stop ALS. The nonprofit Institute has a 30 person research team working aggressively by applying the best practices on behalf of today’s patients.
MDA’s Augie’s Quest, the Muscular Dystrophy Association’s ALS research initiative, is an aggressive, cure-driven effort singularly focused on finding treatments and cures for ALS. MDA funds over $23 million annually and has funded more than $250 million since its inception.
The mission of Project A.L.S. is to create a new paradigm for neurodegenerative disease research. They identity the world's leading researchers and clinicians and mobilize them to work together as teams in the areas of genetics, drug discovery, stem cells, and disease pathways. Each project is vetted and approved by its research advisory board. Project A.L.S. has raised over $38 million to fund these efforts.
For more information on the “4♦ALS” campaign, please visit www.MLB.com/4ALS.
Select Read More to see Gehrig's “Luckiest Man” Speech
Lou Gehrig’s “Luckiest Man” Speech (Abbreviated Version)
“Fans, for the past two weeks you have been reading about the bad break I got. Yet today I consider myself the luckiest man on the face of this earth.
I have been in ballparks for seventeen years and have never received anything but kindness and encouragement from you fans.
Look at these grand men. Which of you wouldn't consider it the highlight of his career just to associate with them for even one day?
Sure I'm lucky. When the [New York Giants], a team you would give your right arm to beat, and vice versa, sends you a gift—that's something.
When everybody down to the groundskeepers and those boys in white coats remember you with trophies—that's something.
When you have a wonderful mother-in-law who takes sides with you in squabbles with her own daughter—that's something.
When you have a father and a mother who work all their lives so you can have an education and build your body—it's a blessing.
When you have a wife who has been a tower of strength and shown more courage than you dreamed existed—that's the finest I know.
So, I close in saying that, I may have had a tough break, but I have an awful lot to live for.”
Source: Major League Baseball
Maury Brown is the Founder and President of the Business of Sports Network, which includes The Biz of Baseball, The Biz of Football, The Biz of Basketball and The Biz of Hockey. He is contributor to Baseball Prospectus, and is available as a freelance writer. Brown's full bio is here. He looks forward to your comments via email and can be contacted through the Business of Sports Network.
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