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MLB announces plans for annual Lou Gehrig Day on June 2

Major League Baseball will honor the legacy of the iconic Lou Gehrig with an annual celebration of the New York Yankees legend on June 2.

The league announced details of its plans for Lou Gehrig Day on Thursday with an issued statement and video shared on its social media channels.

“Major League Baseball is thrilled to celebrate the legacy of Lou Gehrig, whose humility and courage continue to inspire our society,” MLB commissioner Rob Manfred said in a prepared statement. “While ALS has been closely identified with our game since Lou’s legendary career, the pressing need to find cures 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 end this disease.”

As noted in Manfred’s statement, Gehrig of course has always been the person most closely identified with amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), just as much if not more so than his “Luckiest Man Alive” speech on July 4, 1939 during Lou Gehrig Appreciation Day at Yankee Stadium.

As noted by MLB Communications, Gehrig joins Jackie Robinson and Roberto Clemente as players who are annually honored by the league with a day of their own.

According to MLB’s announcement, Gehrig’s legacy will be honored in several ways. Uniformed personnel will wear a jersey patch celebrating Gehrig and the “4-ALS” logo (in recognition of the legend’s No. 4 jersey) will be displayed around ballparks across the league.

Further, Lou Gehrig Day will serve as the centerpiece of the league’s efforts to raise awareness as well as funds for ALS and research into a disease that is diagnosed in an estimated 5,000 people in the United States every year.

Gehrig died at the young age of 37 on June 2, 1941, less than two years after his iconic speech. A member of the Major League Baseball All-Century and All-Time Teams, the Hall of Famer Gehrig was a seven-time All-Star, six-time World Series champion and two-time AL MVP.

The Yankees legend known as “The Iron Horse” played in 2,130 consecutive games — only Cal Ripken Jr. exceeded that remarkable feat — Gehrig accomplished the Triple Crown in 1934, when he led the American League in batting with a phenomenal .363 average.

Jeff Passan provides a detailed recounting of the grassroots and more official efforts that led to Thursday’s announcement in an in-depth piece shared on ESPN.