It started, as so many ideas do these days, with a text. “(D)o you think it would [be] possible and appropriate to approach mlb with doing something with Lou Gehrig like they’ve done Jackie Robinson?” songwriter Bryan Wayne Galentine, who had been diagnosed with ALS two years earlier, texted friends whom he’d met through the tight-knit ALS community on June 24, 2019. From that the idea was born.
And just under two years later, Major League Baseball celebrated the first Lou Gehrig Day on June 2, 2021. Which is not to say there weren’t more than a few things that happened in between—a global pandemic, for one, leading to an abbreviated 2020 baseball season. And ALS remains a cruel disease that does not stop. As a painful example of just how cruel, six from the core group of 27 members from the Lou Gehrig Day committee have passed away since the group was formed, including Galentine, who died on October 22, 2020.
Their legacy was felt across the MLB—and the nation—on June 2, as it will be each June 2 going forward. In honor of Lou Gehrig and in support of the fight to end ALS, every player, manager and coach wore a special uniform patch and red “4-ALS” wristbands. Messages about ALS and efforts to find treatments and cure were included in-stadium and on broadcasts. All across the world of baseball, the longstanding connection between the legendary Gehrig and the fight against the disease that took his life was evident.
“We are so pleased by the level of awareness and engagement the ALS community was able to generate by coming together with Major League Baseball in this way to celebrate Lou Gehrig and his legacy,” said Calaneet Balas, President & CEO of The ALS Association.
The St. Louis Cardinals were visiting the Los Angeles Dodgers on June 2, but took time to celebrate when they returned home on to face the Reds on June 3. The son of a person with ALS was invited to throw out the first pitch that night, and this video honoring Gehrig and raising ALS awareness was presented as well:
The choice of June 2 for Lou Gehrig Day was no accident, as it marks both the day Gehrig began his record 2,130-consecutive-games-played streak in 1925 and the day he died in 1941. And from this year forward it will also mark the legacy of Gehrig and all those lost to the disease that bears his name, help the ALS community raise awareness and funds for research of ALS, and celebrate the groups and individual who will do whatever it takes in the pursuit for new treatments, and a cure.