Oklahoma City infielder Matt Duffy knows about the impact Lou Gehrig had on baseball.
He also knows the impact amyotrophic lateral sclerosis — known as Lou Gehrig’s Disease — has on a person.
Growing up south of Boston in Milton, Mass., Duffy has become aware of former Boston College center fielder Pete Frates’ battle with ALS through friends back home.
That alone has had a huge impact.
“I don’t know him personably, but I know the story,” Duffy said of the Hall of Fame first baseman. “It’s opened my eyes to the disease and I’ve done some research on it and can see how bad it is. It’s unfortunate they don’t have a cure for it yet, but I know they’re working on it.”
Major League Baseball spent the past week honoring Gehrig for the 75th anniversary of his famous speech at Yankee Stadium where he proclaimed himself, “the luckiest man on the face of the earth,” despite battling ALS.
It’s a speech that has had an impact on many in and out of the game, and the RedHawks’ first basemen are no different.
“It gives me chills,” Marc Krauss said. “You put yourself into that position understanding where he was coming from, knowing what he did at the time and facing the unknown that he had.
“You can only imagine the emotions he was going through, but to give such a powerful speech at Yankee Stadium in front of everybody was pretty impressive and just speaks volumes to what kind of guy he was.”
Duffy grew up a Boston Red Sox fan, so he’s heard the stories about Gehrig, the former Yankee star.
He heard how great the first baseman was in all facets of the game. He heard the respect Boston fans have for a rival.
Duffy even did a book report about Gehrig in elementary school.
“I’d hear these names growing up when I was younger and ask my dad who was the best player,” he said. “The thing that I’m amazed about the most is the fact that he just played so many games in a row (2,130). It’s crazy to me to think about how playing 10-15 games in a row can wear you down sometimes.”
And as baseball spent the past week honoring Gehrig with tribute videos and bobblehead giveaways, Duffy was reminded about Frates’ battle.
“That stuff’s all great,” he said about the MLB tributes. “Hopefully it can lead to finding a cure for the disease.”