Summer Premier Auction 2019

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The friendship between Babe Ruth and Lou Gehrig is as complicated as the personas of each of these two American sports legends. Ruth was always the extrovert, louder and larger than everyone in the room. Gehrig, was more reserved, perfectly content to leave the spotlight on Ruth and quietly go about his business in the shadow of the big man. In addition to batting third and fourth, respectively, in the Yankees dreaded “Murderer’s Row” lineup, the two frequently joined forces on postseason exhibition tours and made countless promotional appearances as baseball’s unstoppable home run tandem. However, sometime in the early 1930s this unconventional friendship ended, both men bitterly refusing to acknowledge each other or make amends. Ruth left the Yankees after 1934 and Gehrig enjoyed just one full season before falling under the shadow of another superstar, Joe DiMaggio in ’36. It would take Gehrig’s shocking retirement due to the fatal disease that would soon bear his name to bring these two proud men together again.

July 4, 1939 was designated “Lou Gehrig Day” at Yankee Stadium, a solemn occasion that featured Gehrig speaking the immortal words, “For the past two weeks you have been reading about a bad break. Yet today, I consider myself the luckiest man on the face of the earth.” Lou was joined on the field by teammates past and present, but it was the Babe, visibly moved by Lou’s speech, that broke ranks and hugged his old friend. Flashbulbs popped and it was this historic shot that would become the best-known photograph of the two sluggers, finally putting their petty grievances behind them in the face of Gehrig’s illness and early retirement.

The image was taken out of storage once again in 1962 when Topps used it for card #140 of their “Babe Ruth Special” subset. This original Type I photograph is made even more desirable in that the reverse features a press clipping of the image, stamped “July 5, 1939,” as it was printed in the newspaper the day after the ceremony. Along with the clipping, the back has several scuffs and abrasions from the printing process. The front of the image remains very clean with just the usual toning that gives older images such as this one a warm sepia hue.

The photo has been encapsulated by PSA/DNA as Type I Authentic. Also included is a full LOA from PSA/DNA by renowned photo expert Henry Yee stating that this original photo taken just after Gehrig’s “Luckiest Man” speech is the exact same image used for the 1962 Topps card #140.

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