SSTN Interviews Adam Wilson (Lou Gehrig Day Proponent and Organizer)
SSTN: Today we are here with Adam Wilson who is one of a group of people affected by ALS (Lou Gehrig’s Disease) that are spearheading the drive to push for Major League Baseball to recognize and honor Lou Gehrig with an annual day in his honor. Adam was diagnosed with ALS at the age of 32, in April of 2015. He says, “I am luckier than most in that I am still alive. Most people die about 2-5 years after diagnosis.” Adam is a huge baseball fan that has, more often than not, been disappointed by his Cincinnati Reds!
Adam, it is great to have this discussion with you. Thanks for coming to Start Spreading The News.
Thank you so much, Ethan! I’m excited to spread the word about what we are doing here…especially with Yankee fans!
Please begin by telling us a little about your grassroots effort here. What sparked this desire for you to push for this recognition for Lou Gehrig?
Well, Lou Gehrig is pretty famous in the ALS community. A few of us asked why he doesn’t have his own day honoring him. We thought that was crazy and decided to try to make it a reality.
How has this quest been going? How long have you been at it? Have you been able to gain any momentum from any writers, media, players, or executives with MLB?
We started in May 2019. We have many of the MLB teams, including the Yankees, 15 Lou Gehrig Award winners, 16 managers, loads of players, front office, and media! Plus 22 ALS organizations. We got the Rockies, A’s, & Red Sox right away because they all have a connection to ALS. Both Colorado and Oakland have players whose parents have or had ALS. Sam Hilliard’s father, Jim, has ALS and Stephen Piscotty’s mother, Gretchen, passed from ALS. Sam’s mother, Tamara, and Stephen’s father, Mike, has been on the team from the beginning. Boston has a really great relationship with the Frates family. Pete Frates, a co-founder of the Ice Bucket Challenge, passed from ALS in December 2019. Pat Quinn, also a co-founder of the Ice Bucket Challenge, and HUGE Yankees fan, is on our team!
You can see the list of supporters at www.lg4day.com, but a few Yankees have agreed to support #LG4Day: Gerrit Cole, Bobby Richardson (winner of 1963 Lou Gehrig Award), Brian Cashman, Aaron Boone, Paul O’Neill, David Cone, Ken Singleton, Mickey Rivers, Jim Abbott, John Flaherty! Additionally, most of the YES network, including Jack Curry, Michael Kay, Bob Lorenz, Nancy Newman, and Meredith Marakovits!
At SSTN, we, of course, love and respect Lou Gehrig. He is one of the most legendary Yankees and one of the heroes of the sport. What made you decide to focus on Gehrig for this honor?
Gehrig is the celebrity that is most famously connected to ALS. We think that MLB can honor him, and at the same time, raise awareness for a disease that has the same number of cures/treatments as when Lou was diagnosed: zero!
Additionally, there are three statues at the entry to the Hall of Fame. Jackie Robinson, Roberto Clemente, and Lou Gehrig. Two of them have a day dedicated to them…it’s time to make the third a reality!
I am sure this quest has not been easy. What was the biggest lesson you learned in this process?
Haha, no it has not been easy! For me, it’s been perseverance. It’s been very difficult getting to the right person at the teams to agree to officially support a LG4Day. Everyone, personally, says it’s a no-brainer, but the teams have been very hard to get.
Another difficulty has been having meetings while being unable to speak, due to ALS.
Each one of the team members that have ALS are affected in different ways. A few of us can’t speak, a few of us can’t walk, or both. It makes Zoom calls difficult because everyone has to wait for me to slowly type!
How can interested readers help you in this?
Glad you asked! Readers can help in three ways;
· If they know anyone at any teams that we still need, or a player/media/coach, please email me at LG4Day@gmail.com
· Follow us on Twitter
· Like our Facebook page
When we interview people, we also love to ask some bigger baseball history and fan questions:
When looking at the history of the Yankees, or baseball in general, what person or event do you most enjoy reading or learning about?
Besides Lou Gehrig? I’m a Cincinnati Reds fan, so I enjoy learning about them. Joe Posnanski’s book, The Machine: A Hot Team, a Legendary Season, and a Heart-stopping World Series: The Story of the 1975 Cincinnati Reds, was awesome. Plus, it’s a story about beating the Red Sox, so your readers will probably enjoy it!
In the book and the movie The Natural, the main character wants nothing more than to walk down the street and have people say, “There goes Roy Hobbs, the best there ever was.” Who was the best baseball player you ever saw?
In person: Pedro in the late 90s or Albert Pujols
On TV: Mike Trout
Our final question is really just a collection of short answers…
What was your favorite baseball team growing up?
Who was your favorite player?
Will Clark!! I recently was able to email with him because he signed up in support of #LG4Day. I was PRETTY excited!
What is your most prized collectible?
I am collecting a signed baseball from the 65 Lou Gehrig award winners. I have 57 of them so far!
Who is your favorite musical group or artist?
What is your favorite food (if it is pizza, what is your favorite pizza restaurant)?
Avocado or Chicken Parmesan
Please share anything else you’d like with our audience
Just that I really appreciate the opportunity to tell everyone what we are trying to do!
Adam, this has been a great pleasure. YOU are an inspiration. Thank you for spending so much time with us.