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BYU professor loses battle with ALS; MLB to honor his memory

By John Daley | Posted - Nov. 2, 2009 at 4:12 p.m.



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SALT LAKE CITY -- A prominent BYU law professor who fought to raise awareness of Lou Gehrig's disease and was honored at Yankee Stadium last summer has died. On Monday night, Major League Baseball will pay tribute to Michael Goldsmith again, this time on its biggest stage.

Goldsmith, a lifelong baseball fan, fought Lou Gehrig's disease, amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, also known as ALS, for the past three years.

Goldsmith's son told the New York Times his father died in a hospice in Albany, N.Y., from respiratory failure due to ALS. The disease is a progressive disorder, with no cure, that strikes the muscles and then the nerves.

BYU professor loses battle with ALS; MLB to honor his memory

One year ago, Goldsmith wrote a piece in Newsweek, calling on Major League Baseball to declare July 4, 2009 -- the 70th anniversary of Gehrig's famous "luckiest man on the face of the earth" farewell speech -- as ALS-Lou Gehrig Day. He urged baseball to dedicate the day to funding research for a cure.

"I've encouraged my students, also, to work hard to make long shots happen. And I'm hoping they get the message," Goldsmith told KSL News in November 2008.

Goldsmith's essay made such an impact Major League Baseball did, in fact, honor Gehrig July 4th of this year. Goldsmith was on hand for the honorary first pitch at Yankee Stadium.

Similar events were held in stadiums around the country as teams and fans were encouraged to give money to the cause.

A former federal prosecutor, Goldsmith was part of the defense team representing former Olympic chief Tom Welch in the case stemming from the Salt Lake City Olympic bribery scandal. He was voted Professor of the Year by BYU law student's six times, including the last three years when he continued to teach after being diagnosed with ALS.

Major League Baseball will dedicate Monday's Game 5 of the World Series to Goldsmith and also to the ongoing 4ALS awareness initiative, which Goldsmith spearheaded in Gehrig's honor.

E-mail: jdaley@ksl.com

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