Pete Frates is credited with co-creating the viral Ice Bucket Challenge to raise awareness about ALS

By Nicholas Rice
June 01, 2021 10:24 AM
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The MLB is honoring one of baseball's greats.

On Tuesday, MLB Network premiered their new Lou Gehrig Day feature, which PEOPLE is exclusively debuting.

Titled "Heart of a Hero," the new video is narrated by Nancy Frates, who is the mother of Pete Frates, a former captain of the Boston College baseball team. Pete died from ALS, also known as Lou Gehrig's disease, in 2019 at age 34.

ALS — aka amyotrophic lateral sclerosis — is a neurodegenerative disease that affects nerve cells in both the brain and the spinal cord.

The spot, which runs just over five minutes, honors Gehrig, who died from ALS back in 1941. The video will play across MLB Network's studio programming on both Tuesday and Wednesday, per an MLB spokesperson.

Lou Gehrig
Credit: Getty

"When you're young, getting any kind of a bad break is a hard thing to accept. Impossibly hard, actually," Nancy is heard saying at the opening of the clip, as scenes of New York's Yankee Stadium flash across the screen. "When the news you get means you can't live your life the same way, or worse yet, maybe not live at all."

Then, noting that baseball "lost a hero" 80 years ago, Nancy says that Gehrig "died too young, but not before leaving a legacy that would last far into the future."

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As the clip continues, Nancy compares Gehrig's story with that of her own son's and reflects on the legacy left behind by Pete — which included co-creating the viral Ice Bucket Challenge to raise awareness about ALS.

Noting that the disease he suffered from is fatal and without a cure, Nancy says, "The tragedy of it was unfathomable."

"... In the words of my son, be passionate. Be genuine. Be hardworking," Nancy adds as she closes out the clip. "And don't be afraid to be great."

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Earlier this year, Major League Baseball announced it would host its first annual Lou Gehrig Day this season, honoring the late New York Yankees player and his battle with ALS.

"Each year, we will celebrate his legacy and honor those we've lost to ALS," the league wrote on Twitter alongside the announcement at the time. "Together, we will help in the fight against this disease."

Lou Gehrig Day will see teams sport a jersey patch reading "4-ALS" to honor Gehrig, who wore the number on his jersey for more than a decade with the Yankees, according to ESPN.

The league will also use the event to raise money and awareness for ALS and honor ALS advocacy groups like the LG4Day committee.