It is with great sadness and heavy heart that I have to announce that my mother, Jo Ann M Galentine, died on Christmas Day 2011. Jo Ann was a kind woman who had a spirit that could not be contained, she was born in London, Ontario in 1928 and after the war, she met my father, Philip Galentine. They married in 1950 and lived in Moncton, New Brunswick together for the better part of their lives.
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7:00 A.M. EASTERN TIME Jeff Passan Close ESPN MLB Insider Author of the book The Hand: The billion-dollar mystery surrounding sports’ most valuable asset When he was told he was going to die, Brian Wayne Gallentine began to think about what he wanted to leave behind. Every day, as long as ALS allowed, the disease wanted to take something from her. It took over his legs, then attacked his lungs, then robbed him of his voice. His way of dealing with the inevitable was to make sure it didn’t take away from his legacy. He recorded an album first. When he was on the sixth floor. Diagnosed with ALS in April 2017, treatment unknown, with two to five years to live, Galentine lived in Nashville, Tennessee, where he moved to become a country music star, but found his niche as a songwriter, a country poet. Before ALS caught up with him, Galentine made sure his wife Stacy and his two boys Grayson and Bennett never forgot what he looked like. And he gave the world words of hope and joy, backed by the challenge – that even if ALS wins the war, it will have its share of fighting. There were many of them, large and small, and Galentine was too stubborn to run away from any of them. It wasn’t boring stubbornness, it wasn’t tenacity and stubbornness. The charm of B-Wayne, as his friends called him, was that he could ask for anything and you’d feel guilty if you didn’t give it to him. When Galentine got involved in the project, it had to be done. That’s what made the plan he developed two years ago so bold. Major League Baseball was a monolith. Galentine doesn’t care, she always needs something to climb. He gave his family everything he could. What he wanted to leave behind was for all those who already know what ALS is – and for all those who may not understand it, but will if Brian Wayne Galentine has anything to say about it. Wednesday marks the first time Lou Gehrig Day is celebrated in the MLB, a day coined by Brian Wayne Gallentine during his battle with ALS. Thanks to the Galentine family. AMIOTROPHIC LATERAL SCEROSIS is an unfortunate disease. It is a neurodegenerative disease in which the motor neurons in the brain that control random muscles are slowly suppressed. The progression is a slow movement toward paralysis, resulting in a completely sharp mind trapped in a body that no longer functions. There are several options. Stephen Hawking has lived with the disease for more than 50 years, but he is an exception. More than 5,000 Americans are diagnosed with the disease each year, and nearly all of these people die within 50 years. Just over two years passed between Lou Gehrig’s diagnosis and his death. More than 80 years later, the New York Yankees’ first baseman and Hall of Fame inductee is still the most famous patient with ALS, popularly known as Lou Gehrig’s disease. He has made baseball and ALS inseparable. In 2008, Michael Goldsmith, an attorney suffering from the disease, asked in a Newsweek article why MLB did not honor Gehrig. The following year, on July 4, the day of his retirement, he uttered the famous phrase: Today, I consider myself the luckiest man in the world, because the MLB honored Gehrig in all 15 stadiums that were played. Goldsmith died four months later. The adoration for Gehrig did not last long. Watch teams from all the major clubs pay tribute to the greatest player of all time on Lou Gehrig Day on ESPN and ESPN+. Rays – Yankees, 7:05 ET on ESPN+ Red Sox – Astros, 8 ET on ESPN Rangers – Rockies, 8:40 ET on ESPN+ In 2014, a former Boston College baseball star, Pete Frates, who had been diagnosed with ALS, poured a bucket of ice water over his head and the phenomenon began. The Ice Bucket Challenge campaign raised more than $100 million for ALS research and strengthened Mr. Frates’ ties to the Boston Red Sox and baseball in general. However, there was no formal link between the League and the ALS community until the Galentine Project began. Galentine hopes he can be that bridge. He grew up playing baseball and loved the Baltimore Orioles team. He liked to say that he would have been a great player if he hadn’t been injured while studying. The first verse of the song Priceless, written by Galentine, tells of the protagonist throwing a ball over the left field fence, but the ball goes through the windshield of Mr. Winningham’s new minivan has an accident. I spent two months cutting grass to afford the dusty glass The total, including tax, was $97 and 45 cents But being known as the Sultan of Swat Taking a famous picture Landing in the parking lot was priceless. Baseball, like Galentine, was a romance – something worthy of the time he had left. This prompted him, at 24. June 2019 to write a note to two friends in the ALS community: Adam Wilson, who has the disease, and Chuck Haberstro, who has his mother. At 10:32 p.m., a message from B-Wayne came in on their phones. I don’t really have a comment today. I was going to write to you, but do you think it would be possible and appropriate for the M.L.B. to suggest doing something with Lou Gehrig, as they did with Jackie Robinson? Not to retire the number 4, but to have everyone wear the number 4 one game a year? Maybe the day he made his speech? The idea didn’t seem too far-fetched to Wilson and Haberstroe. Maybe instead of wearing a Gehrig jersey number, they could wear patches with the letters ALS on them for maximum visibility. And instead of the 4th of July, which may be overshadowed by Independence Day celebrations, it could be the 2nd. June: The day Gehrig made his first start in a string of 2,130 consecutive games and the day he died in 1941. It seemed simple enough. The three amigos – as Galentin, Wilson and Haberstraw called themselves – turned to John Sciambi, a longtime ESPN announcer and ALS advocate, for advice. As good as the idea is, he added, the easiest way to make it happen is to get the support of all 30 teams. If the clubs agreed, the league could not say no. The reason was too good, the story too fascinating. Decades after Gehrig’s death, ALS remains a scourge whose only hope lies in drug trials and experimental treatments. Gehrig’s words on this day of the 4th. Juli, the optimism he exuded: I may have been unlucky, he said, but I have something to live for, they said in Galentine. Lou Gehrig, known as Haberstro, inspired him to live by these principles and to truly help others through baseball. When he was 14, before wish lists existed, Brian Wayne Galentine wrote down his dreams. His teenage mind was a big cliché. In fifteen years, he writes, he will be retired, even though he has never worked. (He would win the lottery, of course.) He would have a car, a boat, and lots of golf. That’s not how it happened. Gallentine grew up in Vienna, Virginia, a half-hour drive from Washington, D.C., played baseball at Winthrop University during his junior year, then transferred to George Mason before following his wanderlust to Nashville. One day, while working on a song in the apartment of a sound engineer, Galentine met his roommate, a pretty girl with homesickness who was wearing Cat in the Hat pajamas. Yet he was blown away. Baseball has always had a place in Brian Wayne Galentine’s heart, even long after his own playing career ended. Thanks to the Galentine family. Stacy was his perfect support: brave enough to tell him when he was being too emotional, charming enough to pull him out of his natural shyness, funny enough to share his ambition, open enough to get used to his mannerisms. Galentine stopped his car on the side of the road and took a picture of a billboard that might inspire him to write a song. He hummed, shouted and composed songs in the shower, where the acoustics were excellent. Sometimes, in church, he would pick up a sheet of paper and scribble something. Galentina’s brain worked at all hours of the day. He could talk about sports, politics, love and the Bible. He was torn between Hallmark ads and keeping all the sentimental things like Lego or baseball cards from his childhood. In 2014, he started a Facebook group called Find the Good Stuff. He’s tired of all the negativity in the world. B-Wayne preferred to tell positive stories – about mindfulness and caring, about big hearts and selflessness. It was not easy to find the right side of his diagnosis. It all started a year earlier when he felt tingling in his hands while playing guitar or typing song lyrics on the computer. Numbness crept up his arms. Doctors thought it was carpal tunnel or the remnants of a rotator cuff injury and tried to fix it surgically. The feeling didn’t go away, and after Galentine visited a neurologist one night in April 2017 writhing in pain who said it was ALS. All Stacey heard was the number: 100%, the death rate. And as she came to terms with this, she wondered what would happen to her life. ALS is not just a disease that disables those who have it. It can also be devastating for caregivers. They give, and give again, and give all, knowing that their efforts free them from nothing, that their struggle is a work of Sisyphus, and that the only thing that sustains them is love, the purest and most unconditional. Galentine escaped from the depths of what was to come and began to plan for what could have been. He had his own album. One day Stacy came home and saw the shells of two dozen eggs on the counter. She looked in Galentina’s direction. What did he do? I wanted to perfect my omelet, he said. You know, I’ve always wanted to do this. He loved omelets. He never learned how. So he decided to try it out until he could make it work. This was how he wanted to live his life, no matter how long it took: by following the Tao of the omelet. If you want to do something, what are you waiting for? What’s your omelette? Galentina liked to ask people questions. He had omelet products, a website and social channels, and because his voice was still there, his round face, bald head and butter-soft voice with such seductive accents, he sold the idea well. What he didn’t know was that in the early days of his diagnosis, he had another omelet that would last for years. First, Galentine’s optimism almost overwhelmed him. Three amigos began working for Lou Gehrig Day in baseball. Colorado was the first team to say yes. Outfielder Sam Hilliard’s father has ALS. Oakland was also active. Outfielder Stephen Piscotty lost his mother, Gretchen, to ALS. The stars said they would support the cause: Gerrit Cole, Nolan Arenado, Buster Posey. Hall of Famers also supported the idea. Galentine wanted to celebrate every new name, every new team on social media. He could never keep a secret. That was the worst, Stacy said. Sometimes I couldn’t even tell him what I’d given the boys for Christmas. Because he would be so excited and would have to share with them. The Boston Red Sox joined the cause, followed by the Milwaukee Brewers, Minnesota Twins, Washington Nationals, San Francisco Giants and Arizona Diamondbacks. And then… nothing. The stagnation of progress frustrated Galentine. That tenacity has shown itself. He liked to start his thoughts with a polite apology, and then move on to what he was really thinking: I’m sorry, guys, but… But ALS doesn’t give you time. At first, Galentina needed a stick. Then the legs came together. Now his speech is slurred. The Lou Gehrig Day team, which consisted of the three amigos and other community members, was already starting to lose people. Frates is on the 9th. December 2019 Death. The group representative’s trip to the winter meeting revealed nothing significant. Months have gone by. The disappointment was great. They did not know how to reach the decision makers, and if they did, they were not sure that the idea they thought was so perfect would be accepted. 1 Connected By October 2020, the three amigos were desperate. While Galentine continues to work on all the items on his list, he needs a ventilator to help him breathe and is considering a tracheotomy, a surgical hole in his throat that allows him to breathe through a tube. He planned to stay for a while, whether baseball needed him or not. Wilson took Galentine’s admonitions to heart. His ultimate plan was simple. He wanted to guess the email addresses of the team presidents in the MLB and send a cold email asking for help. The first team, in alphabetical order, was Arizona. He clicked send and did not get an email daemon. Then his inbox rang with a reply from Derrick Hall, president of the Diamondbacks. Hall knew too much about ALS. While in college, he visited his grandfather, who had been diagnosed with the disease. They went to the pool and Hall lifted him into the water, held his hands and led him to the bottom and back for hours. I’ll never forget it, Hall said. And you couldn’t see a smile on his face, it was there. He was inside. And he would get help. В 15:03. The 19th. In October, Hall sent an email to all 30 teams asking if they would support a league-wide Lou Gehrig Day. Twins President Dave St. Clair Peter, and Red Sox president Sam Kennedy, accepted the offer. Five minutes later, the first reaction came. It was from Randy Levine, the president of the New York Yankees. The group was concerned that the Yankees would not participate Gehrig, as they regularly honor him. I agree, Levin wrote. Then came a letter from Stan Casten, president of the Los Angeles Dodgers: The Dodgers and I agree. And another from Derek Jeter, Yankees Hall of Fame member and Miami Marlins team owner: Me and the Marlins team are here to support you. It’s done. Eight teams went from 10 to 15, from 15 to 20, from 20 to 25. And the next day, the 20th. In October, before the first game of the World Series, the Seattle Mariners were the last team to say yes. Over a year of frustration and grief disappeared in 24 hours thanks to a random letter with a reply from heaven. Galentine was in Tennessee, Wilson was in Cincinnati, and Haberstro was in Connecticut. They never met because ALS made travel difficult and COVID-19 turned all plans upside down, but they considered themselves more than just buddies. They were brothers, bound together by this disease that the world should have understood better – and did. Guys, Galentine’s wrote them, we made them. Brian Wayne Galentine, pictured here with his wife Stacy and sons Grayson and Bennett, sees Lou Gehrig Day as a way to honor the baseball icon and bring attention to ALS. Thanks to the Galentine family. To celebrate, Galentine ate two plates of spaghetti – one of the last foods he could easily swallow – and washed it down with Oktoberfest beer. It wasn’t good. It was the best. He was giving off energy. Stacey felt it. All feelings of defeat and powerlessness are resolved. He climbed the monolith. He won. Before he slept with Stacy, Galentine used the Eye-Gaze technology he communicates with to tell her: Well, it was a good day… Stacy fainted. She loved all of Galentine’s songs, and A Good Day was one of her favorites. Here we go: An eight-year-old stands at home plateA base hit wins the gameHe hits the bat with all his mightHe still smiles when mom and dad put him to bed that nightThere are so many moments in lifeWhen everything you do seems to go rightAnd years later, you can still look back and sayThat was a good day…. The good day continued on the 21st. The month of October continues. A few days earlier, Grayson and Bennett had made a strange request of their father. They wanted to look at his old baseball cards with him. There were four of the five large bins and then a secret stash of good bins. All that talk about Lou Gehrig and baseball piqued their interest, and they sat together for hours reading books, father talking, boys listening, mother beaming. After years of struggling with depression and uncertainty, Drew Robinson attempted suicide in April 2020. Now, he tells Jeff Passan, he wants to use his experience to help others get through it – and maybe play baseball again.
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He talked about his boys and Stacy all the time, Haberstro said. And I really want her to know that, and I want her boys to understand how much their father loved them. I can’t imagine what he went through and continuing that struggle while being a father and husband. He inspires me like a father. That should have been a start too. He finally made his omelet. He can take a break. Although MLB didn’t technically green light it, he understood it was a formality. He told Stacy and the boys: We’re going to Baltimore. And despite how much it meant to him, they understood that, unlike the album, it wasn’t theirs. We were able to stay nice and cozy in our house to get through it, Stacy says. And honestly, there were days when I was frustrated because we were sitting at the table and he was on the ALS phone talking about Lou Gehrig day. And I remember telling my mom, but it wasn’t about Grayson, Bennett and me. We are talking about thousands of other people who will not live to see tomorrow. It is a disease for which there are insufficient resources, research and promotion. And Brian wanted that to change. The next morning, Stacy drove 30 miles from her sleepy suburb to Nashville for a business meeting. As she went to the table, Galentina, the servant, called to her. He wasn’t breathing. Stacy rushed home. As she pulled into the driveway, she recognized the cars of Galentina’s best friends. She had just been to the beach with Brian, and Lou Gehrig’s day had finally come true, and there had been no serious doctor’s visits, no hospital visits, no obvious signs that his breathing was changing, that his heart was weakening, that his body, to which this disease had already given so much, was finally saying enough was enough. Trials of drugs and experimental treatments offered hope, and maybe deep down she knew it was too late for him, but she never thought, said or believed it. Now he’s gone. Brian Wayne Galentine has turned 53 years old. His heart, being so great, could not bear it. The news spread in the ALS community, where Galentine was very popular. The Lou Gehrig Day Committee answered the call. They didn’t know what to say. Then they remembered what Galentine had talked about the other week. Now that all 30 teams are on board, they can finally tell the world what they have been trying to achieve for so long. They just didn’t understand how to do it. We said we needed a story. What’s our story? Haberstro said. And he became B-Wayne. B-Wayne is now history. STACHI STACHI on her husband’s to-do list. He wrote it after he was diagnosed. He wanted to watch the Notre Dame football game. They did it a few years ago. He wanted to see a moose. They saw an incentive. You haven’t reached all the elements. You’ve accomplished a lot. It was written in 2002, according to Stacey. This was shortly after we met. And before we were married. And I was in Branson, Missouri, on a project, working. So part of his to-do list was to get me out of Branson and grow old with Stacy. Her voice doesn’t break when she says it. She has shed enough tears for a lifetime. It’s her life and she’d rather be grateful for the time she spent with Galentina than mourn what ALS stole from her. No, it’s time to be optimistic for the next generation of patients – for Brian Wallach, who takes center stage in a 30-second commercial that aired Wednesday to mark the first Lou Gehrig’s Day. She wants to believe that Chris Snow, who was told two years ago that he had six to 18 months to live, means something new in the fight against ALS. Hope. That’s what Lou Gehrig Day is all about. It’s a tribute to Gehrig’s memory, yes, and to all that he meant to the game, to the cause, to the world, but it’s also a recognition that a selfless man like him would have wanted it to be more for tomorrow than yesterday. When the MLB finally announced in March that Lou Gehrig Day would be held at the 2nd. June was celebrated as an entire day in the year – a date on the calendar to raise funds, plan events and give thanks. Are the games too long? How can baseball make the most of a new generation of stars? We explore the themes that will define the game well beyond this season. The state of baseball In Cincinnati, Adam Wilson will be joined by his daughter, Avery, who will throw out the first pitch of a day that would not have happened without her father. At Yankee Stadium, Chuck Haberstro will join his brothers Steve and Tom to hear the stories being told in the Bronx about a man who played alongside Babe Ruth in the 1920s and owned the sport and the city. Stacey, Grayson and Bennett Galentine landed in Baltimore late Tuesday night. You’ll head to Camden Yards to hear the Orioles tell the story of Brian Wayne Galentine, whose tiny seed of an idea was planted on the 24th. June 2019, please join the 2. June 2021 in a beautiful thing. You’ll see the Orioles honor him as a Birdland hero and donate $5,000 in his honor to I AM ALS, a patient-run foundation considered a beacon in the ALS community. Then, like Avery Wilson, they will throw the first pitch. For me, Grayson says, it’s like seeing everything my dad did pay off. Eventually they go home, and at one point Stacy pulls out a large board with a map of the United States on it, which she keeps. It contains a list of all the stadiums in Major League Baseball. The idea is to pin everyone you visit. It was meant for Galentina. He dreamed of seeing all of Major League Baseball. It was her Christmas present last year, Stacy said. So the guys and I just said: We will. And we’re going to finish this and make sure we can cross it off his list.
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