MLB Honors ALS Activist

World Series pays tribute to late ALS activist Michael Goldsmith, who urged baseball to fight ‘Lou Gehrig’s disease’

by Quest Staff on November 7, 2009 - 10:00pm

The law professor and ALS activist responsible for getting Major League Baseball fired up to defeat ALS died Nov. 1. In tribute, Game 5 of the World Series, played on Nov. 2 between the New York Yankees and Philadelphia Phillies, was dedicated to Michael Goldsmith, 58, a devoted baseball fan who pushed the game he loved to fight the disease he hated.

Goldsmith, of Heber, Utah, wrote a Newsweek magazine column last fall urging Major League Baseball to do more to defeat the disease that felled Yankees’ great Lou Gehrig and which has come to be known by his name.

MLB heard and responded. On July 4, at 15 stadiums around the country, ceremonies were held marking the 70th anniversary of Gehrig’s famous retirement speech from baseball due to the effects of amyotrophic lateral sclerosis. Four ALS organizations (MDA, the ALS Therapy Development Institute, the ALS Association and Project ALS) cooperated to raise funds for ALS research at these events. In Yankee Stadium, Goldsmith himself threw out the ceremonial first pitch (a moment preserved on YouTube).

Michael Goldsmith

The Woodruff J. Deem professor of law at Brigham Young University’s J. Reuben Clark Law School, Goldsmith was voted "Best Professor of the Year" by the student body six times. From 1983 to 1985, he served as counsel to the New York State Organized Crime Task Force in White Plains, N.Y., where he directed operations against various mob figures and testified against John Gotti in the late 1980s.

Goldsmith claimed the success of his Major League Baseball effort showed “the power of one” to make an impact. That power was on display once again during the seventh inning of World Series Game 5 on Nov. 2, when MLB aired a spot saying, “Major League Baseball encourages all fans to support ALS charities.”

Michael Goldsmith is survived by his wife, mother and two children.

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