BYU professor persuades MLB to host fundraiser for ALS

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It's a victory for one Utahn in raising awareness of a chronic disease: The BYU professor helped persuade Major League Baseball to join the fight against the disease which claimed one of its legends.

A lot of baseball, and a lot of life, is about making contact. Michael Goldsmith knows that better than most. He connects with students in his law school class every day.

"It's amazing to see what he's been able to do with the hardships he has to face every day," law student Jonathan Salls said.

When Goldsmith wrote a piece in Newsweek last fall, it provoked a groundswell, eliciting calls and e-mails nationwide.

"I was overjoyed. I was amazed and overjoyed, because I never anticipated that they would respond so quickly," Goldsmith said.

The professor is a fan and played baseball for years. His request was simple: that professional baseball join the fight against ALS, a progressive, disabling disease he shares with one of its heroes, Lou Gehrig.

Gehrig's fight with the disease inspired one of the greatest speeches in sports history, immortalized in film. "Today, I consider myself the luckiest man on the face of the earth," he told a crowd at Yankee Stadium on July 4, 1939.

The plan is to hold events in major and minor league ballparks around the country on July 4, 2009, the 70th anniversary of the famous speech.

"How Professor Goldsmith has been able to pull this off is amazing. As far as I'm concerned, it's incredible," law student John Clancy said.

Baseball will promote the campaign for a cure and help raise money. On July 4, players will wear a "4 ALS" patch on their jerseys, and each home team will host an on-field reading of Gehrig's farewell speech during the 7th inning stretch. Goldsmith plans to be there in one of those parks.


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