A baseball lifer, the Red Sox manager is well aware of where Gehrig's address ranks in the pantheon of sports history.
"It's one of the clips you see that's certainly most famous of all," Francona said. "I've certainly seen it, and I don't know that anybody hasn't."
Saturday marked the 70th anniversary of the Yankees legend's famed "Luckiest Man" speech, and the Sox honored the occasion in full force before their game against the Mariners at Fenway Park.
In an effort to raise awareness and financial support for organizations leading the fight against ALS (Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis), otherwise known as Lou Gehrig's Disease, Boston joined the rest of Major League Baseball in conducting an on-field ceremony to commemorate Gehrig's 1939 farewell address at Yankee Stadium.
Highlighting the dedication was an appearance from former Red Sox pitcher Curt Schilling, who made his first visit to Fenway since formally announcing his retirement in March. A strong supporter of care for ALS patients, Schilling paid his respects by reciting an excerpt from Gehrig's address.
All on-field personnel wore a "4♦ALS" patch, a logo that also appeared on first base. The base will be auctioned off at a later date on MLB.com to raise additional funds for ALS.
"Seventy years ago, Lou Gehrig delivered an impassioned speech that has become part of American history," Commissioner Bud Selig said in a statement. "We are pleased to have this opportunity to help find a cure for ALS and help those who are suffering from the disease.
"Major League Baseball is proud to devote the Fourth of July to Lou Gehrig and the disease that bears his name."
John Barone is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.