Michael Goldsmith lived long enough to see the New York Yankees play the first two games of the World Series during the same season they honored him in a July pregame ceremony. On Nov. 5, Game 5 of that same World Series will be played in his memory.
Mr. Goldsmith, the Woodruff J. Deem Professor of Law at BYU, passed away Nov. 1 at a hospice in Albany, N.Y., as a result of respiratory failure from amyotrophic lateral sclerosis — commonly known as A.L.S. or Lou Gehrig's disease. Later that day, the Yankees defeated the Philadelphia Phillies 8-5 in Game 3 of the World Series. Major League Baseball dedicated Game 5 of the World Series on Nov. 3 to his memory.
Prior to a game between the Yankees and visiting Baltimore Orioles on July 4, 2009, Mr. Goldsmith helped raise awareness for A.L.S. by throwing out a ceremonial first pitch on the 70th anniversary of Mr. Gehrig's famous farewell speech wherein he declared, "Today I consider myself to be the luckiest man on the face of this earth."
Allan H. (Bud) Selig, commissioner of Major League Baseball, said in a press release, "I am deeply saddened by the passing of Michael Goldsmith yesterday. … He helped us plan and arrange for ceremonies at all of our ballparks this past July 4th to raise awareness for A.L.S. and to celebrate the 70th anniversary of Gehrig's renowned farewell speech. On behalf of Major League Baseball, my condolences go out to his family and friends."
At BYU's law school, Mr. Goldsmith taught classes in criminal procedure, evidence, the RICO Act, trial advocacy and complex criminal investigations. A member of the Jewish faith, he arrived at BYU in 1985 and was voted Professor of the Year by the student body six different times over a 24-year tenure. Mr. Goldsmith continued teaching through April 2009, but his A.L.S. progressed to the point he could not return to teach again during the current semester.
"He was very well-respected and loved by his faculty colleagues and by the students," said Scott Cameron, an associate dean of BYU's law school. "He was a person of great determination. He was born in Tel Aviv, so it's interesting he would find and spend most of his career teaching at BYU Law School."
Mr. Goldsmith immigrated to New York in 1955 after being born in Israel in 1951. He earned his undergraduate and law degrees from Cornell University. He worked as an Assistant United States Attorney and Counsel to the New York State Organized Crime Task Force before joining the faculty at BYU Law School. President Bill Clinton appointed him in 1994 to the U.S. Sentencing Commission, for which he served as Vice Chairman in 1996-97.