On July 14, Hunt Auctions will host the MLB All-Star FanFest Auction where nearly 800 items will be up for bid. Given that this year’s All-Star Game takes place in St. Louis, the auction will see a good deal of Cardinals items including a rare 1956 Stan Musial road jersey that could garner between $30,000-$40,000 due to the jersey being a single-year design.
But the jewel of the auction has no Cardinals flavor to it, or for that matter, National League. It is the circa late 1920s to early 1930s Lou Gehrig cap that is pictured here. Given Gehrig’s incredible legacy as a player, and then after he removed himself from the lineup on May 2, 1939 against the Tigers thus ending his 2,130 consecutive games played streak. The New York Times recounted the eventful day, and how Gehrig let manager Joe McCarthy know.
"Lou just told me he felt it would be best for the club if he took himself out of the line-up," McCarthy said following their private talk. "I asked him if he really felt that way. He told me he was serious. He feels blue. He is dejected. I told him it would be as he wished. Like everybody else I'm sorry to see it happen. I told him not to worry. Maybe the warm weather will bring him around."
As history recounts, the warm weather did not bring Gehrig around.
Doctors at the Mayo Clinic diagnosed Gehrig with a very rare form of degenerative disease: amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), which is now called Lou Gehrig's disease, a fatal disease.
New York sportswriter Paul Gallico suggested the team have a recognition day to honor Gehrig on July 4, 1939. There were more than 62,000 fans in attendance as Gehrig stood on the field at Yankee Stadium with the 1927 and 1939 Yankees. He fought back tears of overwhelming emotion and began to speak his immortal words of thanks, calling himself "the luckiest man on the face of the earth." It was one of the most poignant and emotional moments in the history of American sports, and there was not a dry eye in Yankee Stadium. At the close of Gehrig's speech, Babe Ruth walked up, put his arm around his former teammate and spoke in his ear the first words they had shared since 1934.
Based upon Gehrig’s incredible mark as a player, and then in his emotional speech on Lou Gehrig Day, his items are some of the most sought after memorabilia at auction.
Hunt Auction lists lot #430 shown here at between $75,000-$125,000 when the auction takes place on July 14 at 10:00 AM at St. Louis’ Central America’s Center.
Source: Hunt Auctions, Lou Gehrig Official Website, The New York Times
Maury Brown is the Founder and President of the Business of Sports Network, which includes The Biz of Baseball, The Biz of Football, The Biz of Basketball and The Biz of Hockey. He is contributor to Baseball Prospectus, and is available as a freelance writer. Brown's full bio is here. He looks forward to your comments via email and can be contacted through the Business of Sports Network.
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