Everyone knows who Lou Gehrig is, right? The fantastic New York Yankee baseball player from 1923-1939 nicknamed the Iron Horse because he never missed a game, playing in an astounding 2,130 straight. He also had the unfortunate luck to die from an illness that bore his name. I mean, what are the odds of that?
What? Too soon? Okay... he died of amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (also known as ALS or Lou Gehrig's Disease). But before he died, on June 21, 1939, the Yankees feted him on July 4, proclaiming the U.S. Independence Day to be Lou Gehrig Appreciation Day. They made THE U.S. holiday in 1939 a day to honor Gehrig! That's how beloved he was!
The speech given between a Washington Senators doubleheader at Yankee Stadium can be read below in its entirety. You just have to say it out loud and pretend you are in a massive stadium with your words echoing after you say them. It still brings chills down my spine. I've provided link to the original Movietone News footage - click on the speech. But the entire speech is presented here for your perusal.
Fans, for the past two weeks you have been reading about the bad break I got. Yet today I consider myself the luckiest man on the face of the earth. I have been in ballparks for seventeen years and have never received anything but kindness and encouragement from you fans.
Look at these grand men. Which of you wouldn’t consider it the highlight of his career just to associate with them for even one day? Sure, I’m lucky. Who wouldn’t consider it an honor to have known Jacob Ruppert? Also, the builder of baseball’s greatest empire, Ed Barrow? To have spent six years with that wonderful little fellow, Miller Huggins? Then to have spent the next nine years with that outstanding leader, that smart student of psychology, the best manager in baseball today, Joe McCarthy? Sure, I'm lucky.
When the New York Giants, a team you would give your right arm to beat, and vice versa, sends you a gift — that’s something. When everybody down to the groundskeepers and those boys in white coats remember you with trophies — that’s something. When you have a wonderful mother-in-law who takes sides with you in squabbles with her own daughter — that's something. When you have a father and a mother who work all their lives so that you can have an education and build your body — it's a blessing. 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. Thank you.
Front and back images are here to see within this blog.
Chris Ivy, the director of Heritage Sports Collectibles says: "There are dozens of pieces in this auction that would, individually, be the lead lot on their own in any other auction. Needless to say, it's an issue that we're happy to have. This is easily one of the finest groupings of material that the hobby has ever seen."
The 1934 Gehrig Tour of Japan uniform represents what is unquestionably the most significant hobby find of the young decade. It also ends a widely debated mystery regarding one of baseball's most noteworthy foreign excursions. Only a tiny handful of uniforms from this famous trip have been unearthed in the 75 years since Gehrig, Babe (George Hermann) Ruth, Jimmie Foxx and about a dozen other American players steamed back from Japan, with the Babe's uniform commanding more than $750,000 in a 2005 auction — the highest price ever paid at auction for an exhibition baseball uniform.
According to Ivy, it really wasn't that difficult to track down the Gehrig uniform, much to the chagrin of collectors everywhere, saying that it was a "simple telephone call from the son of a serious ex-girlfriend of Gehrig's, who almost became Mrs. Gehrig before Eleanor (Gehrig's eventual wife) took the job."
Despite the fractured romance, this ex remained close with Gehrig and his family, a bond that survived past Gehrig's tragic 1941 death and until Lou's mother herself passed away in the 1950s. The special friendship is documented in Christina Gehrig's (Lou's mom) will, which provided for a college fund for the consignor and stipulated that a portion of her famous son's belongings be left to the ex-girlfriend of Lou.
Man... regular readers of this blog will already note that there is no way in hell I want any of my ex-girlfriends to get anything of mine when I die of Andrew Joseph's Disease (also known as Extreme Poor Taste).
What? Not soon enough?
Anyhow, since the 1950's, this uniform, and the four other pieces in The Lou Gehrig Collection in this auction, resided in the familial home of Gehrig's ex, its residents largely unaware of the historic and monetary value stored in the attic.
How do you not know that the baseball uniforms of one of the most beloved New York Yankees and one of the greatest ever baseball players might be worth a few bucks? Do these people not own a television or read a newspaper? Heck... even if you only get your news from The Daily Show or the Colbert Report, you'd still know that these uniforms either belong in Cooperstown (baseball's hall of fame), or could net you a enough money to buy yourself a new television - with digital cable!
Somewhere waiting for my number to be retired,