On July 4, 1939, the image of a courageous, eloquent man bidding us farewell was frozen in time.
Because of the sensibilities of the era and a respect for celebrity privacy that we don't have today, we saw little of Lou Gehrig after that. It's hard to visualize his out-of-control, downhilll journey to his death less than two years later.
Any baseball fan knows that he took himself out of the game. We know that something was happening to his remarkable athletic ability. We can stretch our imaginations to see him eventually not being able to use those powerful arms and legs, but unless you've seen ALS in person, you may not realize that it's more than arm and leg strength that are stolen by ALS.
Neck weakness is one of the most insidious parts of ALS. It's hard to understand until you've seen it and tried to deal with it. Your head is heavy. If its center of gravity strays from directly over your shoulders, without neck strength, you are toast. Your head flops painfully. You can't pick it back up. You can't see. You can't breathe.
That handsome Yankee who still looked fit and strong in 1939 faced a difficult ALS path that hundreds of thousands have taken since. It includes that evil neck weakness that few realize.
This is why the Lou Gehrig bobblehead promotions are offensive and disrespectful.
This is why we need to make the 75th anniversary of Lou Gehrig's farewell a moment when we all respect and honor a great Yankee and American, and at the same time respect all of those who have dealt with the disease that bears his name.
I cringe to think that 18,000 baseball fans could listen to Lou Gehrig's farewell while holding little statues with his head wobbling. If that happens, we will have lost our way.
I beg of some of the most trusted brands in the world. You know how to lead. You know that doing the right thing is important. Please do the right thing.