Yankees to be first to pay tribute to Gehrig

Club will commemorate 75th anniversary of 'Luckiest Man' speech

Yankees to be first to pay tribute to Gehrig

NEW YORK -- The Yankees will commemorate the 75th anniversary of Lou Gehrig's "Luckiest Man" speech on Wednesday at Yankee Stadium, kicking off Major League Baseball's league-wide effort to spread awareness of and raise funds for ALS research.

Gehrig's famous speech was delivered on July 4, 1939, at Yankee Stadium between games of a doubleheader against Washington. The Yankees will hold pregame ceremonies to honor Gehrig's speech on Wednesday, and all 30 clubs plan to recognize Gehrig's speech before their scheduled games on Friday.

"The Yankees have to be leaders in this project," said Debbie Tymon, the Yankees' senior vice president of marketing. "It's Lou Gehrig's disease, so we really need to kick this off. We really need to lead the awareness, lead the fight and impact the fundraising, because it's part of our history."

The sides of the bases will bear special logos, marking the date of Gehrig's speech as well as his famous phrase, "Today, I consider myself the luckiest man on the face of the earth."

The Yankees will wear a special uniform patch honoring Gehrig, and the scoreboard will run a video featuring Derek Jeter and first basemen from all 30 teams reciting Gehrig's speech. The video will also be played before all Major League games on Friday.

An on-field ceremony will include Kevin Brown Thompson, who lives with ALS and is an advocate with the ALS Association Greater NY Chapter; the Goldsmith family, who were part of the 70th anniversary Gehrig commemoration at Yankee Stadium and who mourn the loss of Michael Goldsmith to ALS (Goldsmith spearheaded the effort to get MLB to recognize this day league-wide); and U.S. Navy Lt. Commander (Select) Matthew Bellina, who was diagnosed with ALS in April of this year.

Dorine Gordon, the president & CEO of the ALS Association Greater New York Chapter, will also be on-site with a number of patients and their families.

"We are proud to carry on the legacy of a great role model to many both on and off the field and grateful to Lou's team, the New York Yankees, for their long-standing support of the New York Chapter of the ALS Association," Gordon said.

"Our ultimate goal is to find a cure, but until then we work every day to do our best to provide our patients and their families the resources they not only need to fight but also to live with ALS -- access to specialized treatment in our multidisciplinary clinics, equipment for those who cannot afford it and compassionate support."

The first 18,000 guests in attendance for Wednesday's game will receive a Lou Gehrig bobblehead, presented by AT&T. The Yankees worked closely with the Twins in planning their own ceremony, and the Twins will distribute the same items before New York's game on Friday at Target Field.

Tymon said in addition to those invited guests taking part in on-field ceremonies, several suites for Wednesday's game have been reserved for families who have been impacted by ALS.

"It's a very emotional day for everyone," Tymon said. "We're giving the message to please be aware, please support this fight, please support any of the major ALS charities, because in essence it could happen to anyone. For these families that come out, it's a bright spot in their day. They can really be a part of this fight. They need to know people care."

Bryan Hoch is a reporter for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter @bryanhoch and read his MLBlog, Bombers Beat. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.