Lou Gehrig (1903-1941) – the vaunted "Iron Horse" – reigns as one of baseball's greatest players. Enshrined in the Baseball Hall of Fame in Cooperstown, New York, Gehrig played his entire career with the New York Yankees. At age 37, Gehrig succumbed to amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) – known today as Lou Gehrig's disease – ending the life of one of the game's most popular performers. On Lou Gehrig Appreciation Day, July 4, 1939, an emotional Gehrig gave one of the most memorable speeches in sports history, telling the packed 61,808 fans at Yankee Stadium, "...Today I consider myself the luckiest man on the face of the earth."
Here are ten valuable Lou Gehrig sports collectibles. There was only one Larrupin' Lou...
Lou Gehrig/Babe Ruth 1928 The Sporting News Counter Display
New York Yankee teammates Lou Gehrig and Babe Ruth appear together on a 1928 diecut advertising counter display for the St. Louis-based The Sporting News. This super rarity in excellent to mint condition sold at auction for a cool $29,000.
Advertising counter display from 1928: Lou Gehrig and George Herman "Babe" Ruth for The Sporting News - $29,000
Lou Gehrig 1939 Handwritten Letter
When news of Lou Gehrig's grim diagnosis of ALS became public, Mrs. Joseph Neely wrote Gehrig asking for his help in seeking proper treatment for her multiple sclerosis. Although not expecting a reply, the always charitable Gehrig penned a two-page handwritten letter on Cleveland Hotel stationery urging Mrs. Neely to try the Mayo Clinic, where he had been diagnosed and treated. That letter, dated Sunday, July 16, 1939, brought $41,125 at auction.
Handwritten letter: Lou Gehrig discusses his illness in 1939 - $41,125
Lou Gehrig's Final 1938 New York Yankees Contract
Lou Gehrig, who was forced to retire in 1939 because of illness, inked his final New York Yankees contract on March 10, 1938. His salary: $39,000 per year. That standard Uniform Player's Contract, signed by Gehrig, American League President William Harridge and Yankee general manager Ed Barrow (for owner Jacob Ruppert) brought a top bid of $70,500.
Lou Gehrig/Babe Ruth Autographed Photo
An original first-generation photograph of Babe Ruth embracing his former teammate at Lou Gehrig Appreciation Day, July 4, 1939, is a treasure in itself. But this example, signed by both Gehrig and Ruth, is one of the Holy Grails in sports memorabilia, selling at auction for $58,750.
Autographed photo: Lou Gehrig and Babe Ruth at Yankee Stadium, July 4, 1939 - $58,750
Goudey 1933 Uncut Lou Gehrig and Babe Ruth Sheet
Vintage Lou Gehrig baseball cards are always hot. But a 1933 R319 Goudey uncut sheet featuring one Gehrig and three Babe Ruth cards – along with fellow Hall of Famers Leo Durocher, Jimmie Foxx, Lloyd Waner and Joe Sewell – garnered a top bid of $117,000.
Goudey Gum 1933 uncut baseball card sheet, with Gehrig at bottom right - $117,000
Lou Gehrig Signed 1925 Exhibit Card
The Exhibit Supply Co. of Chicago produced a number of outstanding arcade-type cards during their years in business. A 1925 Exhibit Lou Gehrig rookie card autographed by "The Iron Horse" sold at auction for $15,275. The signature was certified authentic by PSA/DNA.
Lou Gehrig 1936 Signed Bank Check
Lou Gehrig wrote more than a few personal checks in his lifetime. One dated May 19, 1936, from the First National Bank of New Rochelle, New York, for $25 and signed with his rarer full name, "Henry Louis Gehrig," brought $14,950.
Signed bank check: Henry Louis Gehrig May 19, 1936 - $14,950
Lou Gehrig and Miller Huggins 1927 Autographed Baseball
Lou Gehrig signed baseballs are huge in the sports memorabilia field. One dated March 23, 1927, and signed by both Gehrig and Yankees manager Miller Huggins sold for $9,860.
Lou Gehrig Batrite Pro Model Bat
Although Lou Gehrig mainly used Louisville Sluggers throughout his professional baseball career, the Yankee first baseman also utilized both Batrite and Spalding during a two-year stretch. A rare game-used Gehrig Batrite model circa 1931 made by Hanna Manufacturing Co. of Athens, Georgia – length 35 inches, weight 33 ounces – brought $11,600 at auction.
Lou Gehrig 1932 U.S. Caramel Baseball Card
A PSA graded/certified 1932 U.S. Caramel #26 Lou Gehrig baseball card in near mint 7 condition brought a top bid of $8,225.
U.S. Caramel baseball card: Lou Gehrig #26 from 1932 - $8,225
Ten More Classic Lou Gehrig Sports Memorabilia
- 1927 official news photo picturing "Murderers' Row," Lou Gehrig, Babe Ruth, Tony Lazzeri - $6,462.50
- Lou Gehrig circa 1940 Reach Stand-Up Counter Display - $1,380
- Lou Gehrig 1933 #92 Goudey baseball card in PSA near mint-mint 8 condition - $10,440
- Perez-Steele 1980 original artwork for Lou Gehrig Hall of Fame postcard - $9,400
- Lot of 1937 Lou Gehrig handwritten postcard with 1940 typed letter bearing a Gehrig stamped signature - $3,818.75
- Lou Gehrig 1927 York Caramels #26 baseball card (type 2) in PSA excellent-mint 6 condition - $5,875
- Lou Gehrig "250" signature store-model bat from 1921-31 era - $3,818.75
- Lou Gehrig signed photo, "To Thomas Miley from Lou Gehrig" - $10,575
- Official Underwood & Underwood 1927 news photo of Lou Gehrig - $1,527.50
- Lou Gehrig 1938 PM10 stadium key pin photo button with mini Yanks banner - $823
Reach 1940 Advertising Counter Display: Unauthorized use of Lou Gehrig likeness - $1,380
- All auction results and images courtesy Robert Edward Auctions, LLC, Watchung, New Jersey
- Top image: Official news photo, l-r: Joe DiMaggio, New York City Mayor Fiorello LaGuardia, Lou Gehrig prior to Game 2 of the 1938 World Series at Chicago's Wrigley Field - $1,527.50
Copyright © 2010 William J. Felchner. All rights reserved.