Auction Item Details

Lot 168



Lot Number: 168

Description: Shortly after discovering he had been diagnosed with a terminal illness, amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, Lou Gehrig removed himself from the Yankees lineup on May 2, 1939. On July 4, the Yankees honored Gehrig with an incredible on field celebration attended by teammates, former colleagues, and dignitaries alike. It was on this day that Gehrig delivered his famed "Luckiest Man" speech. In his remarks, Gehrig expressed concern not for his own well-being, but for his team, his teammates, and his wife, concluding with, "When you have a wife who has been a tower of strength and shown more courage than you dreamed existed - that's the finest I know. So I close in saying that I might have been given a bad break, but I've got an awful lot to live for..." His humility in the face of such an insurmountable adversity was regarded by his peers as virtually immortal. Fitting for a man of Gehrig's integrity, the "Iron Horse" succumbed to the horrid disease on June 2, 1941, at 10:10 p.m., sixteen years to the day after he had first replaced Wally Pipp as first baseman for the New York Yankees. The model by which Gehrig played the game, and more importantly, lived his life, is a standard that even many of the greatest players in history have not achieved. It is for those reasons that treasured pieces of Lou Gehrig's baseball memorabilia garner such passionate interest from the collecting public. As such, we offer a spectacular 1938 New York Yankees home jersey worn by Lou Gehrig. Beautiful pinstriped Yankees home flannel shirt, which has properly faded ever so slightly to a light cream color, retains its original "NY" logo on the front and "4" on the reverse. "L.Gehrig" is chain stitched in red inside the collar along with Spalding manufacturer tagging. Small "38" year designation is chain stitched on the back of the interior tail. The jersey itself remains in outstanding original condition exhibiting evident use including some light soiling around the belt area (typically found on jerseys) and some light soiling around the back of the collar area. The left sleeve of the jersey displays shadowing of its original 1939 World's Fair patch depicting the Trylon, Perisphere, and "1939" dating which was removed in the period. The jersey remains in completely original condition with no restoration or repairs of any type. The origins of the offered shirt are nothing short of miraculous. John Ryan of Passaic, New Jersey was involved in forming an amateur baseball team for a church baseball league in 1938. As was customary in the period, Ryan went to the New York Yankees after the completion of the 1938 World Series to request the purchase of the Yankee players' used jerseys for his church league team. The price was $9.00 per jersey. Although the cost was not insignificant at the time, Mr. Ryan proceeded to purchase the complete roster of 1938 New York Yankees home jerseys. The shirts were then distributed to the respective church league players. As unbelievable as it may sound, tt was determined that Ryan would retain the Lou Gehrig shirt for repair patches should any of the other jerseys become damaged during play. Luckily for the sake of history and the Ryan family name, the team became defunct after one season and the shirt was not needed for repairs. The jersey was then relegated to Mr. Ryan's closet until its current offering by a family member. According to direct first person accounts by John Ryan, the jerseys were represented by the Yankees as having been worn during the 1938 World Series. Through period photography and film documentation, it is evident that the Yankees players wore the 1939 World's Fair patch on their sleeves in some, but not all, of the World Series games. Furthermore, based on comparisons to various period images of Lou Gehrig taken throughout the 1938 season (from May to September 1938), it is clear that Gehrig preferred the raglan sleeve style to the typical sewn in style worn by many other players. It is unclear whether this was for comfort, aches related to his as yet undiscovered illness, performance, or for superstitious reasons. Based on the superb condition preservation, originality, appearance, dating to 1938 World Championship season, possible World Series attribution, and unimpeachable provenance, the offered Lou Gehrig jersey is without question the finest of its type to have been sold at public auction. Includes LOA from MEARS Authentication (Graded A8.5), LOA from Hunt Auctions, Inc, photocopy of another Passaic, NJ amateur baseball team with John Ryan, and a notarized letter of provenance detailing the history of the jersey including attribution to the 1938 World Series: EX/MT-NM

Estimated Price: ($250,000.00-$350,000.00)

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