By Steve Good
In early March, Major League Baseball announced that it will celebrate Lou Gehrig Day annually on June 2. Gehrig will join Jackie Robinson and Roberto Clemente as the only players to have a day reserved in their honor throughout the league. For those who have been affected by ALS, as well as those who support and advocate for the disease, it was a day for great celebration. The annual celebration provides another major platform to strengthen Lou Gehrig’s legacy. It also gives many ALS families hope that heightened awareness and funding for this awful disease will bring great progress and a cure.
Why June 2? It is the day in 1925 that Gehrig began his record-breaking consecutive games streak (2,130) and later, the day the Iron Horse died eighty-two years ago.
It’s no secret that Phi Delta Theta and its members care about leaving ALS better than we found it. Since 1955, the Fraternity has proudly presented the Lou Gehrig Memorial Award to a Major League Baseball player who exemplifies the characteristics of our beloved Fraternity brother, both on and off the field. In 2018, the Fraternity launched the national LiveLikeLou Foundation to take our commitment and impact to the next level. Every day we see our members serving ALS families, raising vital dollars, hosting philanthropic events, becoming Iron Phis, and sparking progress in their communities. Phi Delta Theta continues to build an army of support for ALS.
As Lou Gehrig Day nears, Major League Baseball clubs are planning unique celebrations, ALS-related organizations are rallying their people, and fans are purchasing tickets to be a part of this special day. Below are a number of ways you can join the celebration.
Lou Gehrig Memorial Award announcement – Phi Delta Theta will be announcing the recipient of this year’s Lou Gehrig Memorial Award the morning of June 2. We’d encourage you to share the news.
Attend a game – After a season without fans, stadiums are opening, and baseball fans are rejoicing. Twelve Major League Baseball games will be played on June 2, and each will have unique celebrations and features of Lou Gehrig and the ALS community throughout the game. Take this opportunity to cheer on your favorite team alongside a group of fellow Phis. Don’t forget to wear your favorite Phi Delta Theta, LiveLikeLou, or Iron Phi apparel. Teams that are not playing at home on June 2 are still planning to celebrate a Lou Gehrig Day sometime during the season, so keep your eyes peeled.
Join a virtual discussion with a New York Times bestseller – The LiveLikeLou Foundation is pleased to share a very special virtual event on June 2 at 12:00 p.m. CST, hosted by partners at the Les Turner Foundation. Jonathan Eig, acclaimed New York Times best-selling author of the 2006 memoir Luckiest Man: The Life and Death of Lou Gehrig will discuss his insights from writing about The Iron Horse airing on Chicago’s WXRT. Learn more and register for the free event.
Sport some gear – Purchase a limited-edition Lou Gehrig-themed Phi Delt jersey at the Phi Delt Store and benefit the LiveLikeLou Foundation in the process. Looking for something other than a jersey, MLB has introduced a great shirt.
Cincinnati Reds fans – The Reds play the Phillies on June 2 and Great American Ballpark will be at full-capacity for the first time since before the pandemic. In a game local Cincinnatians are calling “Re-Opening Day,” Phi Delta Theta and the LiveLikeLou Foundation will participate in a very special pre-game ceremony. Between innings, video presentations of past Lou Gehrig Memorial Award recipients who played for the Reds will be featured on the big screen.
San Francisco Giants fans – Due to the pandemic, Phi Delta Theta was not able to present the Lou Gehrig Memorial Award to last year’s recipient, Buster Posey of the Giants. While our normal on-field presentation will not occur, Posey will be featured before the Giants game on June 3 against the Cubs, with a special video highlighting the award.
Pittsburgh Pirates fans – LiveLikeLou’s roots are in Pittsburgh and the city is home to the LiveLikeLou Center for ALS Research at the University of Pittsburgh Brain Institute. Alongside new partner Permobil Foundation, LiveLikeLou, and Phi Delta Theta will be surprising a local ALS warrior with a brand-new, Pirates-themed motorized wheelchair on June 3 prior to their game against the Marlins.
Oakland Athletics fans – The A’s will be celebrating Lou Gehrig Day on June 8 when they play the Arizona Diamondbacks. Stephen Piscotty, this year’s winner of the Lou Gehrig Memorial Award, will be given the award prior to the game.
New York City Phis – On June 2, a group of Phi Delts will be meeting at Lou Gehrig’s alma matter Columbia University (116th Street Gates on Broadway) at 4:00 p.m. for a “Walk 4 Lou,” walking four miles to Yankee Stadium. A large group of NYC-area Phis will also be attending the game. Send questions to Fred Reimer.
Become an Iron Phi – Saying that you became an Iron Phi (or started your journey) on the inaugural Lou Gehrig Day would be a big deal. Setup your fundraising page, lace up the shoes, jump on your bike, and use your athleticism to make a difference. Have you already raised $1,000 but are still searching for an athletic event? Four miles on Lou Gehrig Day is your play.
Write your Senator – The Promising Pathway Act reintroduced in the Senate on May 13, 2021 will expedite beneficial outcomes for patients by requiring the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to establish a rolling, real-time, priority review pathway for drugs intended to treat, prevent, or diagnose serious or life-threatening diseases or conditions. Phi Delt and U.S. Senator Mike Braun has led the way in introducing this bill, and our friends at I AM ALS have made it easy for you to contact your congresspeople.
Sign up to serve an ALS family – More than one hundred fifty ALS families have been connected to Phi Delts since the LiveLikeLou Foundation introduced its Great Outdoor Cleanup as the pandemic began. There are still many ALS families to be matched with volunteers, and there may not be a better way to honor the legacy of Lou Gehrig than to serve a family.
Spread the word – There will be no shortage of great social media content surrounding this exciting celebration. Get those fingers ready to like, share, retweet, and post. Awareness comes in all forms. #LiveLikeLou #LouGehrigDay
Year one of Lou Gehrig Day is already shaping up to be a momentous day, and we look forward to seeing how the efforts progress over the years. As Phi Delts, we have so much to be proud of being association with Lou Gehrig. Let’s do everything we can to honor his legacy.