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Baseball to raise ALS awareness

Jul 3, 2009, 8:28 AM EDT

Baseball will remember Lou Gehrig tomorrow with a nice gesture:

Major League Baseball will honor the 70th anniversary of Gehrig’s
farewell at 15 games on Saturday, when his speech will be read during
the seventh-inning stretch.

“It’s an honor to pay tribute to this American legend,” Commissioner Bud Selig said in initiating the leaguewide celebration.

The purpose is to raise awareness and money for research of
amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, or A.L.S., the incurable neurological
disease that took Gehrig’s life and now commonly bears his name.

Surprisingly, this is baseball’s first real public embrace of ALS as a cause, with tomorrow’s ceremonies only coming about as a result of an article in Newsweek last November.
Then, a law professor named Michael Goldsmith, who himself suffers from
ALS, challenged baseball to raise money and awareness in order to fight
it. To their credit, many individual teams have long focused on the
disease. The Phillies have had ALS-related events before, for example,
as have the Twins, likely due to the fact that Kent Hrbek’s father
succumbed to it early in his playing career. Given the disease’s
unofficial name and famous victim, however — victims, actually, as
Catfish Hunter also suffered from ALS — you’d think that MLB as a
whole would have been out in front of it long ago.

Better late than never, of course, and good for baseball for doing
this. Anyone who lives with ALS or has a loved one who has suffered
from it knows of its insidious nature, so anything that can be done to
raise awareness — or to raise money — to find a cure is most welcome indeed.

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