Utah man honors baseball great Lou Gherig

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SALT LAKE CITY - A Utah man is honoring baseball great Lou Gehrig by raising money to fight the disease that killed him.

When Michael Goldsmith learned he had ALS three years ago, he was initially devastated. Then he decided to try to prove to everyone that something good can come out of a horrible situation. That dream was realized Saturday.

Goldsmith, a BYU law professor, wrote an essay in Newsweek magazine back in 2008. It called on Major League Baseball to do more to fight ALS, the disease that killed Lou Gherig.

"I thought if I have to have this, I want something positive to come out of it," Goldsmith said.

His article caught some major attention, eventually leading to the creation of MLB 4ALS, a program aimed at raising money and awareness for the disease.

Ceremonies were held in 15 major league parks Saturday. Players donned a patch with the number four, Gherig's old number.

Minor league teams followed suit with tributes of their own, including one at the Salt Lake Bee's game.

Goldsmith spent Saturday night in New York, throwing the first pitch at the Yankees-Blue Jays game. Goldsmith and his son also watched as a tribute video to Gehrig played on the scoreboard.

The date is historic and significant. On the same day 70 years ago, Lou Gehrig gave his farewell speech, calling his disease a "bad break." That speech still inspires players, as do Goldsmith's actions.

Robert Mitchell, the manager of the Salt Lake Bee's said, "It's something that someone needed to do, and I'm glad he stepped forward."

Fans at Saturday's Bee's game received free pins and had the chance to learn more about ALS at information booths set up throughout the park.

E-mail: sdallof@ksl.com

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