Lou Gehrig, known affectionately by fans as “The Iron Horse,” was one of the most popular professional baseball players of all time. Gehrig’s collectibles are extremely rare and desired by New York Yankees collectors for two reasons: He played in an era in which very few baseball cards were printed; and his tragic death at age 37 from amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), a disease that now bears his name, makes his autograph very uncommon.

Gehrig enjoyed an absolutely remarkable 17-year career with the New York Yankees. Though his contributions were often unappreciated because of the presence of teammate Babe Ruth, Gehrig's consistency and power made him one of the greatest players ever to play the game. Indeed, he got his nickname because he appeared in 2,130 consecutive games from 1925 to 1939 (he only stopped because of his debilitating disease), a record that stood until 1995, when it was broken by Cal Ripken, Jr.

The New York native made his Yankees debut in 1923. By the middle of the decade, Gehrig was considered the best first baseman in the league. Despite his success and fame, Gehrig didn't get his own mainstream baseball card until 1932, although this was largely due to the weak baseball-card market after World War I.

By the time U.S. Caramel released a Lou Gehrig card in ’32, Gehrig was at the top of his game. And even though the U.S. Caramel card is Gehrig's first, it is by no means his most popular, in part because it's difficult to find in high-grade due to toning problems and poor print quality.

Three Gehrig cards were published in 1933, one by DeLong and two by Goudey, which produced its first set that year. The DeLong card, which depicts a giant Gehrig finishing his sweet left-handed swing while standing on top of a miniature baseball field, is considered by many to be Gehrig’s most difficult card to find, and because of its very narrow borders, the card suffers from poor centering. The two Goudey cards, in comparison, are not quite as rare. Consequently, they are underrated by many collectors.

Lou Gehrig baseball cards reached their high point in 1934. That was the year Goudey released a set known to many collectors as the “Lou Gehrig set” because it featured the words “Lou Gehrig says…” on the front of each card, with a Gehrig quote on the back. Other players would have done well to listen to what Gehrig was saying as he had an amazing ’34 season, hitting .363 with 49 home runs and 165 runs batted in en route to winning the American League Triple Crown.

Gehrig was featured on two cards in that Goudey set, and they are largely considered his most popular cards, with #37 being the more popular of the two. It shows a close-up of Ge...

Through the first half of the 1938 season, Gehrig continued to produce for the Yankees and was well on his way to being the greatest player ever. Then, suddenly, Gehrig began to struggle. His difficulties carried into the 1939 season as well. It turns out that Gehrig’s problems were due to ALS, now known as Lou Gehrig’s disease.

On May 2, 1939, Gehrig took himself out of the lineup for the first time in 2,130 games. One of the most famous and collected photographs of Gehrig comes from that day in Detroit. It is a picture of Gehrig in the dugout, tears in his eyes as the fans applaud him for his streak. Shortly after that event, Gehrig informed Yankees’ manager, Joe McCarthy, that he was quitting baseball because he was no longer helping the team.

On June 19, Dr. Charles Mayo diagnosed Gehrig with ALS. He formally retired two days later. On July 4, the Yankees held Lou Gehrig Appreciation Day, during which Gehrig uttered his famous line, “Today I consider myself the luckiest man on the face of the earth.” Pictures and statues of that emotional day are treasured by Yankees collectors.

By the end of the year, Gehrig had been elected to the Baseball Hall of Fame in a special election—the usual waiting period after retirement was waived for the sickly Iron Horse. Less than two years later, on June 2, 1941, Gehrig died.

During Lou Gehrig Appreciation Day, the Yankees retired Gehrig’s #4, making him the first major-league player ever to have his number retired. Not surprisingly, game-worn Gehrig jerseys are highly collectible today, though they are maddeningly difficult to come by. Autographed Gehrig jerseys are even more desirable.

Despite the premature end to his career, Gehrig left baseball with some astronomical statistics. He was a career .340 hitter with 493 home runs, which placed him third all-time when he retired. He still holds the record for most career grand slams, 23.

Gehrig’s enduring popularity, which is reflected in the high prices for his collectibles, was reinforced in 1999 when he was the leading vote recipient for ESPN’s All-Century baseball team. To earn that distinction, Gehrig beat out teammate Babe Ruth. Photographs of Gehrig and Ruth together are very collectible, as are items autographed by both players or the entire Yankees team from the 1920s through the 1930s. Hall of Fame busts are also highly prized.

About our sources | Got something to add?

▼ Expand to read the full article ▼

Best of the Web (“Hall of Fame”)

Old Cardboard

Old Cardboard

Check out this well-organized collection of 500 sets of baseball cards, each over 50 years old. Browsable by type a… [read review or visit site]

The Baseball Card Blog

The Baseball Card Blog

Ben Henry's lively vintage baseball card blog, started in January 2006, offers hundreds of great posts on (and pict… [read review or visit site]

Cardboard Junkie

Cardboard Junkie

Dave Campbell's in-depth blog on old baseball (and some football) cards lives up to it's motto: 'do cards, not drug… [read review or visit site]

Baseball Cards 1887-1914

Baseball Cards 1887-1914

Roll up your socks for this Library of Congress collection showcasing hundreds of players on colorful early basebal… [read review or visit site]

Baseball Hall of Fame

Baseball Hall of Fame

A home run for baseball collectors, this site features special online exhibits, ranging from a baseball-uniforms da… [read review or visit site]

Other Great Reference Sites

Most watched eBay auctions    

1934 Goudey #61 Lou Gehrig New York Yankees Hof Psa 4 Vg-ex " Looks Nicer "2004 Leaf Certified Cuts Lou Gehrig New York Yankees Hof Jersey 7/25Lou Gehrig 1933 Goudey Rookie Rc #92 Psa 2 (bscfs)1941 New York Yankees Ticket Stub Lou Gehrig Memorial July 4th Psa Auth (pwcc)2012 Playoff Prime Cuts Baseball Lou Gehrig Patch Card /25. 1/1!2014 Immaculate Accolades Lou Gehrig New York Yankees Hof Bat 20/992014 Classics Lou Gehrig Bat Relic 5/10 Jersey Rare!1934 V354 Goudey World Wide Gum Lou Gehrig #92 -- Psa 2 -- Only 16 Higher2014 Classics Lou Gehrig Lazzeri Miller Huggins Bob Meusel Gu 4x Jersey Bat #/271933 Goudey #160 Lou Gehrig New York Yankees Hof Psa 2015 Lou Gehrig Immaculate Collection Accolades Bat Relic #'d 20/25 Read Details2015 National Treasures All Century Triple Babe Ruth,lou Gehrig,bill Dickey 7/102014 Classics Lou Gehrig Jersey Relic #'d 3/4 2015 Panini Diamond Kings Lou Gehrig Masters Of The Game Used Bat Card 6 #25/252008 Roberto Clemente/lou Gehrig Prime Cuts Mlb Icons Bat/jersey 21/25 Jersey #Lou Gehrig 2016 Flawless Baseball #30 Green Emerald Gem 4/5 ! 1/1 Jersey # Hof1934 Goudey 37 Lou Gehrig Psa 2 (1996)Lou Gehrig Jersey 2016 Diamond Kings 09/15 New York Yankees Hof Hall Of Fame2008 Donruss Celebrity Cuts Lou Gehrig Encased Dual Jersey Stitch Card 53 #21/50Original Art Oasis Series Lou GehrigLou Gehrig 1961 Golden Press #16 Psa 7 YankeesLou Gehrig 1961 Fleer- #311934 Goudey Psa 5 #45 Oscar Melillo Baseball Lou Gehrig Says Big League ChewVintage 1931 Lefty Grove Lou Gehrig Mickey Cochrane Japan Tour Baseball MagazineLou Gehrig July 4, 2014 Limited Eidtion Bobblehead2016 Lou Gehrig Bridgeport Bluefish Hartford Yankees Limited Edition Bobble-head1934 Goudey Psa 4 #31 Baxter Jordan Baseball Lou Gehrig Says Big League ChewOriginal 1938 Spalding's Baseball Guide W/ Dimaggio/gehrig (combined Shipping D)1976 Topps #341 Lou Gehrig Psa 9 (mint) New York YankeesRuth Wagner Cobb Gehrig Mantle Signed Advertising Card Lot Read Listing Original 1936 Spalding's Baseball Guide W/ Lou Gehrig (combined Shipping Deal)1962 Topps Baseball Card #140 Babe Ruth - Lou Gehrig And Ruth - Ny Yankees NmRuth Gehrig Dimaggio Mantle Jeter Signed Baseball Card Ny Yankees Read ListingLou Gehrig Babe Ruth Signed Rain Blo Gum Leaf Card Ny Yankees Read ListingCal Ripken Lou Gehrig 2007 Ud Upper Deck Iron Men #49 Psa 10 Gem Mint $1201934 Goudey Psa 4 #41 George Earnshaw Baseball Lou Gehrig Says Big League Chew1951 Bowman Mickey Mantle Baseball Card Gehrig Signed Ball Lot Read ListingLou Gehrig • 2002 Danbury Mint • Baseball Legends Sculpture1961 Topps Lou Gehrig Streak #405 Bvg 7.5 Near Mint+ (wi)1960 Fleer #28 Lou Gehrig, Psa 7 (hof/type Card "set Break")1950 Callahan Hof Lou Gehrig Psa 6Sporting Life T-size Brown Border Series- Lou Gehrig, New York, A.l.1961 Fleer Baseball Greats Lou Gehrig Card #31 New York Yankees Vg+ Condition1960 Fleer #28 Lou Gehrig Sgc 6.5Lou Gehrig Babe Ruth Signed Baseball Card 1927 New York Yankees Read Listing1934 Goudey Psa 4 #38 Oral Hildebrand Baseball Lou Gehrig Says Big League Chew($300) Lou Gehrig Vintage 1977 Black & White Graded Gem Mint 10 - Old Yankees($300) Babe Ruth & Lou Gehrig Vintage 1979 Black & White Card Graded Gem Mint 10Lou Gehrig "at The Mic" BobbleheadLou Gehrig, A Quiet Hero, Hc, Frank Graham, 1942, New York YankeesOriginal 1940 Spalding's Baseball Guide W/ Gehrig (combined Shipping Deal)($300) Lou Gehrig Exclusive Refractor 2009 Topps Chrome Graded 101934 Goudey Psa 3 #53 George Watkins Baseball Lou Gehrig Says Big League Chew1961 Topps Gehrig Benched After 2130 Games #405 Nrmt Yankees Hofer Set BreakLou Gehrig Babe Ruth Signed Baseball Card 1927 New York Yankees Read Listing($1,000+) Babe Ruth & Gehrig Original 1973 Vintage Lot Orange & Red Graded 10Babe Ruth/ty Cobb/ Lou Gehrig National League Red And Black Stitching Baseball2010 Topps Tribute New York Yankees Lou Gehrig Graded 9 Bat Relic Card Must See!Lou Gehrig Bobble Head 2014 Limited Edition2002 Legendary Cuts Guaranteed Cut Auto Signature Hot Pack Ruth Cobb Gehrig 1/1