MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — Nothing says the Fourth of July like watching baseball.

Fans packed Target Field Friday just like they packed Yankee Stadium 75 years ago to hear Lou Gehrig give his now-famous speech that ushered in the fight against ALS – also known as Lou Gehrig’s disease.

Twins Hall of Famer Kent Hrbek says he can remember his first major league game in 1981, where his connection to Gehrig, the Yankees and ALS became apparent.

“The big push is to try and get a cure and name it after Lou Gehrig instead of having a disease named after you,” Hrbek said. “I played first base in Yankee Stadium where Lou Gehrig … stood for many years, and [during] my first big game was in Yankee Stadium I find out my father has ALS.”

Both Hrbek and Terry Steinback’s father’s died from ALS. Hrbek founded ALS Minnesota to raise money to find a cure.

They took the field Friday with several ALS patients to show the battle is not over.

“It’s kind of a sad day because not only my dad, Herbie’s dad, but you know there’s many, many people out there who have been affected with this disease,” Steinback said. “And with the recognition that, you know, Lou Gehrig has given this disease, hopefully we can raise enough money and generate enough resources to find a cure for this thing.”

From bobble heads of Gehrig to big Jumbotron tributes, the Minnesota Twins honored those who battle the disease daily, and those who spent their last days raising money to find a cure.

Gehrig was diagnosed with ALS at Mayo Clinic in Rochester, and the game where he gave that speech was a double header: the Yankees against the Washington Senators – now known as the Minnesota Twins.

Reg Chapman

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