The ‘Iron Man’ took the lead as an ambassador for the newly-created Lou Gehrig Day created by Major League Baseball. Officially launched on June 2, 2021, the day was created to honor the legacy of Gehrig, build awareness and raise funds for ALS, also known as Lou Gehrig’s disease. It was the first time all 30 of MLB’s teams pulled together to celebrate Gehrig’s life and produced activities to benefit charitable organizations, mainly the Sean M. Healey Center for ALS.
There is no better spokesperson for the league than Cal, who broke Gehrig’s record for consecutive games played in 1995, culminating in his iconic 2131 celebration at Oriole Park at Camden Yards. Cal spoke about the significance of Lou Gehrig and his connection to him, stating, “When we went through the record-breaking year , being able to help Lou Gehrig’s disease was really something I felt very proud of, and I felt connected to it.”
The first-ever #LouGehrigDay is today! @MLB begins an annual tradition to honor the Yankee great and raise awareness and funds around ALS research to end the disease. Cal talks about Lou’s legacy and the lasting connectivity between ‘The Iron Horse’ & ‘The Iron Man’. – CRJ, Inc. pic.twitter.com/PdtGLHZ4uU
— Cal Ripken, Jr. (@CalRipkenJr) June 2, 2021
Cal spoke at length about the man Gehrig was and gained an appreciation for who he was as a player on the field for the Yankees, but also the person off the field, telling gathered media online, “You learn about how great a player he was, how great a man he was — very well respected. I remember a lot of times, they would compare my career with his. I thought, ‘How can you compare me to one of the greatest players to ever play the game?’ I was extremely honored.”
Cal cited his father, Cal Sr, as someone who helped him realize from an early age that Gehrig was one of the greatest players to ever play the game and how that stuck with him.
“I remember everybody talking about what a good guy [Gehrig] was,” Cal told the media. “I think my parents, and many other players, point players like that to the attention of their kids so they can gravitate toward them. I picked up on the theme that not only was he a great player, but he was a great man.”
Cal also narrated the feature, “Speaking Up 4ALS,” along with a special appearance from former New Orleans Saints football player, Steve Gleason, who himself battles ALS and can no longer speak due to the disease. In the piece, Steve synthetically recited a portion of Lou Gehrig’s famous “Luckiest Man” speech, which was played in the 4th inning during every game played in MLB ballparks across the country on Lou Gehrig Day.
“We all have our things we can do individually, but when we collectively come together in a big way and all 30 teams come together and create this day, the power that comes from that is remarkable,” Cal said. Being part of the inaugural Lou Gehrig Day was special for Cal, especially with the connection he now shares with the ‘Iron Horse’, breaking Gehrig’s long-standing record and sharing in the same philosophy of showing up every day.
To commemorate all across baseball, all players, managers, and coaches wore a special “Lou Gehrig Day” patch on their uniforms. The Orioles themselves and all other home teams displayed “4-ALS” logos in their ballparks, commemorating Gehrig’s number “4”
Major League Baseball put together many activities that benefitted the Healey Center for ALS, with special ceremonies before games on June 2nd (and June 3rd for teams that were off on the officially dedicated day), a charitable auction on the official MLB auctions website, Lou Gehrig Day T-shirts, in which all proceeds from the sales would be donated to ALS, and a 1-of-1 NFT (Non-Fungible Token) of Gehrig’s “Luckiest Man” speech. Fans were also able to follow and contribute to the day through social media using the hashtag #LouGehrigDay.
Cal was also featured in a series of sit-down vignettes with MLB Network that aired throughout the day on the network and MLB.com and social media platforms that spoke of the significance of Lou Gehrig Day and the connection between the two. In the segments, Cal discusses Lou’s legacy, the role model Lou was on and off the field, and the impact of Lou’s speech that continues to resonate today.
Cal said that the work being done now will lead to great things in the future, for hopefully, the eventual end to this destructive disease.
“All 30 teams will celebrate this, and use their collective power… it can be localized, and I just think this is the start of something wonderful that we look forward to each and every year.”
Cal participated in interviews with media from across the country prior to the event, including joining The Today Show, to talk about Major League Baseball’s celebration of Lou Gehrig Day to raise money and awareness for ALS. Other national media coverage included:
CBS This Morning (First on CTM Segment)
Cal joins Chiney & Golic Jr.
Cal on ESPN2 with Keyshawn, JWill & Zubin
For more about Lou Gehrig Day and how fans can continue to make a difference, visit the official website at https://lg4day.com/supporters/