#Shortstops: Pete, Lou and the fight against ALS
“To Commissioner Selig, I challenge you to make July 4 ALS Awareness Day across Major League Baseball,” Frates said. “Because of Lou Gehrig, this is baseball’s disease. We need baseball to fully support us in this fight.”
While the day will be celebrated on June 2 rather than July 4, Frates’ wish has now become a reality: Lou Gehrig Day will be an annual celebration in MLB to honor Gehrig’s legacy and raise awareness and funds to fight amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS).
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Frates was diagnosed with ALS in March 2012. From that point forward, he saw it as his mission to spread the word about ALS and contribute to the search for a cure for the disease.
“Upon my diagnosis, it became abundantly clear that my calling was to raise ALS awareness and to fight for a brighter future for all those affected today and those yet to come,” Frates wrote in an essay published in Bleacher Report in July 2014.
The establishment of MLB’s Lou Gehrig Day is a step forward, but Frates, who passed away in December 2019, had aspirations for progress in ALS research that extended much further.
“I want the 100th anniversary of Lou Gehrig's speech to be a celebration of a courageous man who became the poster boy for a disease with a cure, not a cruel reminder of how nothing has changed in a century,” he wrote.
Janey Murray is the digital content specialist at the National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum