On Thursday, March 4, 2021, Major League Baseball announced the inaugural Lou Gehrig Day for June 2.
The annual, league-wide event will be a time to honor and celebrate the legacy of the Hall of Fame first baseman and raise awareness and funds to fight amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) awful disease that ended Gehrig’s life and informally bears his name.
“Major League Baseball is thrilled to celebrate the legacy of Lou Gehrig, whose humility and courage continue to inspire our society,” 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 a cure 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 defeat this disease.”
On Lou Gehrig Day, all players, managers, and coaches will wear a special uniform patch, with red “4-ALS” (the logo bearing Gehrig’s retired uniform number with the Yanks) wristbands available to be worn in-game. Additional ceremonial details for each home park that day will be announced at a later date.
Lou Gehrig joins Jackie Robinson and Roberto Clemente as the only players to have a day reserved in their honor across MLB. The June 2 date is significant in Gehrig’s story, both as the day he became the Yankees’ regular first baseman in 1925 and as the day Gehrig passed away, in 1941, roughly two years after he was diagnosed with ALS.
According to the ALS Association, more than 5,000 people in the United States are diagnosed with ALS each year, with an average life expectancy of just two to five years.
Lou Gehrig Baseball Achievements
- Became the only player in history to drive in more than 500 runs in three years. He ushered in 174 runs in 1930, 184 in 1931 and 151 in 1932, for a total of 509.
- Hit 493 home runs in his career, setting the record for the most home runs hit by any first baseman in history until Mark McGwire hit 500.
- Became the first athlete to have his number retired. Upon his retirement from baseball in 1939, the New York Yankees retired his No. 4 jersey.
- Was inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame in 1939. In light of his progressive illness, the usual two-year waiting period after a player retires was waived in Gehrig’s case.