Tag Archives: Major League Baseball

MLB’s Lou Gehrig Day: The Local Connection

June 4 marks the 80th anniversary of the death of Lou Gehrig. The legendary New York Yankees’ 1st baseman — “The Iron Horse” — died 17 days before his 38th birthday, of amyotrophic lateral sclerosis. The disease now bears his name.

This June 2, all 30 Major League Baseball teams will inaugurate an annual tribute to Gehrig, and recognize the fatal illness. All players and managers will wear a patch with his #4. “4-ALS” logos will be displayed around stadiums.

MLB will use the occasion to raise money and awareness to battle the disease, and pay homage to advocacy groups like the LG4Day committee.

That group was responsible for the league-wide initiative. Co-chair of the committee was Chuck Haberstroh, the former Staples High School basketball star whose mother Patty is afflicted with ALS.

Well-known to Westporters through many activities, including her work with the Department of Human Services, Patty was diagnosed in 2017. She has inspired her family — and many others throughout town — since then.

Haberstroh, songwriter Bryan Wayne Galentine — who was also diagnosed with ALS in 2017 — and Adam Wilson spent 2 years persuading MLB to honor Gehrig with a day, as it does Black pioneer Jackie Robinson and Puerto Rican humanitarian Roberto Clemente.

Hall of Fame statues (from left): Lou Gehrig, Jackie Robinson, Roberto Clemente.

Various teams held their own ALS Awareness Days, but Haberstroh and his group wanted more. They had to convince all 30 clubs to sign on. The breakthrough came in October, when the presidents of the Arizona Diamondbacks, Boston Red Sox and Minnesota Twins agreed to email the presidents of nearly 2 dozen teams that had not yet pledged support.

Within minutes, it was done. Sadly, Galentine died 2 days later.

Patty Haberstroh

That galvanized Haberstroh to work even harder to raise ALS awareness — along with funds to find cures and treatments. The family has already raised hundreds of thousands of dollars through the #ALSPepperChallenge.

“Lou Gehrig Day will increase awareness of ALS year after year,” Haberstroh says.

“And it will give hope to those with little today — somethin Mom has always cared about as a social worker in town.

“Someone diagnosed today receives the same prognosis — 100% fatal — as Lou got over 80 years ago. That’s unacceptable.”

Word has just gotten out about the June 2 4-ALS Day. The nation will hear more about it in the months ahead.

For Chuck Haberstroh and his family, that makes every team a winner.

Click below for an ESPN SportsCenter highlight, featuring brothers Chuck and Steve Haberstroh:

Stephen Wilkes And MLB’s Cuban Connection

The thawing of relations with Cuba has led to many new opportunities, in that country and here.

Among them: a chance for a new generation of baseball players to make it to the Major Leagues.

Westport photographer Stephen Wilkes — who recently received a grant from the National Geographic Society to document national parks — decided to focus on the current crop of players. They defied tremendous odds to reach the big leagues.

Wilkes’ photo essay appears in today’s edition of the New York Times Magazine. Click here to read the story — and see the pros, through our neighbor’s eyes.

Cuba - Stephen Wilkes

(Hat tip: Russell Smith)

Running Home With Suzanne Sherman Propp

Baseball and music fit together like a ball and glove.

There’s “Take Me Out to the Ballgame.”  John Fogerty’s classic “Centerfield.”

Now, add Suzanne Sherman Propp’s “Running Home.”

Suzanne Sherman Propp

Suzanne Sherman Propp

The singer/songwriter/Green’s Farms Elementary School music teacher’s tune provides a fitting soundtrack to  Major League Baseball’s 2009 video — a montage including the opening of New York’s 2 new stadiums, Jacoby Ellsbury’s steal of home, Mark Buehrle’s perfect game, Eric Bruntlett’s unassisted triple play, Derek Jeter passing Lou Gehrig with hit number 2,722, the Yankees’ triumphant World Series win, a little girl throwing back a ball in Philadelphia, and many other highlights that I never heard of but am duly reporting thanks to a gushing press release that promises “more than a few goosebumps.”

Hyperbole aside, it’s quite an honor for Suzanne, described by MLB as a “mother of two including a 12-year-old baseball player.”

“When we sit in the stands as parents there’s such a mix of emotions, highs and lows, the thrill of watching your kid coming around third and tearing for home” she said, in a quote probably massaged by Major League Baseball’s press flacks.

“It’s so close to Matsui coming around third and heading home on that walk-off hit, with that anticipation of coming home and everyone watching and feeling that excitement.”

(“Running Home” was produced with help from Suzanne’s brother, Russell Sherman.)