Athletics

Why MLB's 'Lou Gehrig Day' is extra special for Piscotty

Athletics

MLB announced Thursday the introduction of the inaugural “Lou Gehrig Day” to serve as a cause for remembrance, awareness and celebration of the Hall of Fame first baseman. It will be celebrated across the league on June 2 beginning this season.

Gehrig died on June 2, 1941, after a battle with ALS. People also refer to ALS as Lou Gehrig’s disease.

The day of remembrance is extra special for A’s outfielder Stephen Piscotty, whose mother, Gretchen, passed away after her battle with the disease in May 2018. He also was part of the process in implementing the day. Jackie Robinson and Roberto Clemente are the other iconic players who are celebrated each year with dedicated, league-wide days. 

“It’s very exciting obviously,” Piscotty told reporters on Thursday. “To celebrate the player and the man that Lou Gehrig was. It’s a great day to honor that and also to raise awareness for ALS.”

The A’s have done a tremendous job in raising funds and awareness in an effort to support the cause. Last season, they dedicated a section of fan cardboard cutouts to be purchased along the first baseline for the ALS Cure Project.

Piscotty also said many across the league supported the movement.

“It really was a team effort,” Piscotty said. “There were several organizations, including ours, that were focused on getting MLB to do this and going to each team individually, and you know, Sam Hilliard, with the [Colorado] Rockies, their organization, they were pushing as well.”

 

Hilliard spoke to NBC Sports California last July about his connection to the Piscotty family and ALS. His dad also was diagnosed with the disease.

“There’s not a cure right now, but I would say there definitely is hope,” Hilliard said.

Piscotty said the entire experience getting the league to implement the day was humbling.

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“There was a moment in time where the committee had asked for players to send in video saying, you know, ‘I support you know, the move for Lou Gehrig’s Day, I support, you know, ALS awareness,’ " Piscotty said. "I mean Aaron Judge, you know players from all over the league, Nolan Arenado, it was very humbling to see that video of all these guys saying that they were in support of this. And so that’s why I say it was a team effort. There were a lot of organizations pushing for this, but at the end of the day, the players were also. It feels really special.”