(NEW YORK) — Every Major League Baseball stadium on Wednesday will become a living testament to Lou Gehrig and use his memory to raise awareness for the disease that took his life.
The league will celebrate its first “Lou Gehrig Day” at all games with an emphasis on promoting information on ALS and honoring the Yankee great and others who suffered from the disorder. The date marks not only the day Gehrig made his debut as the Yankee’s regular first baseman in 1925 but also the day he died 16 years later of the neurological disease.
Each stadium will have “4-ALS” logos in ballparks, commemorating Gehrig’s uniform number “4,” and players will wear a special “Lou Gehrig Day” patch on their uniforms. Teams will also pay special tribute to the millions of Americans who have suffered and died from the disease and help raise money to find a cure.
“While ALS has been closely identified with our game since Lou’s legendary career, the pressing need to find a cure remains,” MLB Commissioner Rob Manfred said in a statement.
Gehrig played 17 seasons for the New York Yankees, winning six World Series, batting in 1,995 runs, and making records for most consecutive games played, 2,130, and most career grand slams, 23.
He was forced to retire in 1939 after he was diagnosed with ALS, a disease that would later be nicknamed “Lou Gehrig’s disease,” due to the media attention brought upon by his shocking diagnosis.
On July 4 of that year, Gehrig addressed a packed Yankee Stadium about his departure from the sport and thanked them for his support in what was considered “baseball’s Gettysburg Address.”
“For the past two weeks, you have been reading about a bad break,” he said. “Yet today I consider myself the luckiest man on the face of the Earth.”
Gehrig would pass away on June 2, 1941, at the age of 37.
During the fourth inning of Wednesday’s games, stadiums will play a video narrated by Hall of Famer Cal Ripken Jr., who broke Gehrig’s consecutive game record in 1995, that highlights ALS advocate Steve Gleason.
Gleason, who has lost the ability to speak because of the disease, will recite Gehrig’s retirement speech using technology from Google’s Project Euphoria that allows a person to speak with their own voice through a device.
Each team will also have other programs during the game to honor local ALS advocates.
The New York Yankees will honor the families of Pat Quinn and Pete Frates, the co-creators of the 2014 ALS Ice Bucket Challenge. The Miami Marlins will auction off signed baseballs, with all proceeds going to the University of Miami’s ALS Center.
Fans will also be encouraged to donate money to the Healy Center for MLS at mlb.com/4ALS.
Gehrig is the third MLB player to have a day reserved in their honor across the league after Jackie Robinson and Roberto Clemente.
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