Major League Baseball will celebrate Lou Gehrig with an annual day in his honor beginning June 2 of this season, the 80th anniversary of the legendary Yankees first baseman’s death from the disease that has come to bear his name.
MLB announced Thursday that the tribute to The Iron Horse – who died in 1941 from amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) – will feature all uniformed personnel wearing a jersey patch with a “4-ALS” logo to be displayed around each stadium to raise funds and awareness for the neurodegenerative disease.
Gehrig’s No. 4 was the first to be retired by the Yankees, a few months after his poignant retirement speech on July 4, 1939 in which he referred to himself as “the luckiest man on the face of the earth.”
“Major League Baseball is thrilled to celebrate the legacy of Lou Gehrig, whose humility and courage continue to inspire our society,” MLB commissioner Rob Manfred said in a statement. “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.”
The Columbia product was among baseball’s most productive and durable players, compiling a longstanding MLB record 2,130 consecutive games played from 1925-39, a mark later broken by Cal Ripken Jr. in 1995. Gehrig won two American League MVP awards and clubbed 493 home runs, batting behind Babe Ruth for several seasons in the Yankees’ legendary Murderers’ Row lineup.
Gehrig will join Jackie Robinson (April 15) and Roberto Clemente (Sept. 18) as the only players to have an annual day in their honor throughout MLB.