Thursday, November 06, 2008

What Major League Baseball can do to fight ALS

A few days ago I read this "My Turn" in Newsweek and I thought "I like baseball, I love the Phillies, I should write to them and ask them to champion this." Then I thought "Hey, why not ask friends who are fans of other teams to ask those teams to do it too?" So, here we are. Here is the idea (from Michael Goldsmith who has ALS and is an Orioles fan):
At some point, we talked about what Major League Baseball could do to fight ALS, and I realized that next July 4 will mark the 70th anniversary of Lou Gehrig's famous farewell speech at Yankee Stadium. Since his retirement, more than 600,000 Americans have shared Gehrig's fate, as medical science has made virtually no progress toward finding a cure. Through the years some players and a few teams have occasionally helped raise funds, but Major League Baseball has never taken comprehensive action against ALS. Defeating ALS will require the same type of determination, dedication and drive that Gehrig and Cal Ripken demonstrated when they set superhuman records for consecutive games played. With this in mind, why not make July 4, 2009, ALS-Lou Gehrig Day? Dedicate this grim anniversary to funding research for a cure; every major- and minor-league stadium might project the video of Gehrig's farewell, and teams, players and fans could contribute to this cause. An event of this magnitude has the potential to raise millions, dwarfing the relatively scant sums that ALS walks, rides and similar small-scale efforts have produced.
Today, completely by accident, I found out that Curt Shilling has a blog ( and has raised money for ALS (Total Raised for ALS $135,300 - I think this is the 2008 total) so I'm going to write to him too.

So here is what I am asking everyone to do:
1.) Write a note to the team of your choice (major league, minor league, independent league, little league, I don't care as long as it is baseball) asking them to champion creation of "ALS-Lou Gehrig Day" on or around July 4, 2009 and every year thereafter in ballparks around the country.
2.) Ask the team to commit to raising money for ALS on that day from players, coaches, and fans - recommend that they pass out self-sealing envelopes that fans can fill in with credit card info or include cash and drop in boxes around the stadium or take home and mail (teams are already doing this for things like All-Star voting). They can address the mailers to The ALS Association or baseball can set up their own foundation (but going with one already in place makes the most sense to me and donations are likely tax deductible.)
3.) Ask your family, friends, and co-workers who are baseball fans to do the same.
4.) Leave a comment indicating what team you wrote to and follow up with a comment if you get a response.

I don't know anyone personally who has ALS but it's a crappy disease (yes, I know, all diseases are crappy) that shortens lives. I can't begin to explain how it affects the lives of those who have it but if you want to read about what it is like to have ALS you can click here.


Mr. Goldsmith - I wish you the best and I hope for a cure that comes in time to help you.

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