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    

2006 Exquisite Cuts Lou Gehrig Joe Dimaggio Yankees Dual Cut Auto /4 W/ Uda Coa1933 Goudey Lou Gehrig #92 Psa 2 Gd (pwcc)1926 World Series Program St. Louis Cardinals @ Yankees Ruth Gehrig Hornsby Alex1993 Goudey World Wide Gum #55 Lou Gehrig New York Yankees Hof Psa 3 VgLou Gehrig 2004 Donruss Elite Throwback Threads Game-worn Jersey 010/1002016 National Treasures Lou Gehrig Game Used Jersey Patch 14/20! Yankees! Huge!2016 Immaculate Collection Joe Jackson Lou Gehrig Ty Cobb Triple Jersey Bat 2/151972 Kellogg's Baseball All Time Greats Complete Set (15/15) Johnson Cobb Gehrig1934 Goudey Lou Gehrig Card Psa 2 Good (mc) Not Trimmed1930's Lou Gehrig & Bill Dickey New York Yankees Orig Glass Baseball Shaped Bank1931 W517 Authentic Hall Of Fame Baseball Card Lot. Ruth, Gehrig, More!1934 Goudey Lou Gehrig Series Baseball Cards Original, Empty Wrapper2016 Panini Pantheon Lou Gehrig Greenberg Jimmie Foxx Wilson 4x Jersey Bat #1/4 2007 Sweet Spot Classic Pinstripe Lou Gehrig Nm-mint Game Used Jersey Patch2008 Donruss Celebrity Cuts Lou Gehrig Memorabila #/50 Encased C038601934 Goudey Lou Gehrig # 61 Psa Graded - Pr11961 Topps Hof Lot: Gehrig Banks Fox Rizzuto Hodges Leaders With Aaron Clemente 1962 Topps Babe Ruth Lot: #136 138 140 141 142 143 With Lou Gehrig & Green TintDanbury Mint Lou Gehrig Figure New York Yankees2015 National Treasures #35 Lou Gehrig Hof Bat 36/991934 Goudey Lou Gehrig New York Yankees #61 Baseball Card1962 Topps Lou Gehrig & Babe Ruth #140 Psa 7 Nrmt (pwcc)New Sealed 2014 Ny Yankees Stadium Giveaway Lou Gehrig Bobblehead #2 Speech At&tLou Gehrig 2010 Topps Sterling Quad Jersey 1/1 1of11938 World Series Program Yankees @ Chicago Cubs Gehrig Dimaggio Hartnett Herman2014 Panini Immaculate Collection Ny Yankees Hof Lou Gehrig Relic Bat Card #2/991934 Tigers At Yankees Scorecard Ruth Dickey Greenberg, Lou Gehrig Hr Scored !!!1937 Senators At Yankees Scorecard Lou Gehrig, Joe Dimaggio, Dickey Hr Scored1961 Topps Baseball Thrills Lot Of 15 Gehrig Hornsby Johnson Fair To ExLou Gehrig 2005 Ud Hall Of Fame 1939 Materials Bat 13/152011 Topps Tribute Lou Gehrig New York Yankees Triple Game Used Jersey 19/752015 Topps Tribute New York Yankees Lou Gehrig Bat Relic #37/50 Nm/mt2016 Panini Pantheon Class & Rank Lou Gehrig Mel Ott Dual Bat 10/102012 Prime Cuts Lou Gehrig New York Yankees Timeline Bat / Jersey / Bat 08/251934 Tigers At Yankees Scorecard Ruth Gehrig Greenberg Dickey Hr Scored !!!1960 Fleer Yankees Hof Lot: #3 Babe Ruth #28 Lou Gehrig #54 Lefty Gomez1962 Topps Baseball Babe Ruth Special Lou Gehrig Green Tint Variation #140Gehrig Jeter Dimaggio Mantle Ruth Signed Baseball Card Read Listing1961 Fleer Lou Gehrig #31 Baseball Greats New York Yankess Hof OriginalPontiac Gto Nos Aurora Chassis T-jet Tyco Faller Atlas Bauer Gehrig 1950 Callahan Hof Lou Gehrig New York Yankees Psa 8.5 Nm-mt+ Centered2014 Classics Lou Gehrig Tony Lazzeri Huggins Meusel Quad Jersey Bat 3/27Chevelle Ss 1 Of 1 Nos Aurora Chassis T-jet Tyco Faller Atlas Bauer Gehrig 1933 Who's Who In American Baseball By Johnson. Babe Ruth, Lou Gehrig, Ty Cobb1961 Golden Press #16 Lou Gehrig Psa 6 Ex Mt HofLou Gehrig & Babe Ruth #6 Sketch Card Limited 12/25 Edward Vela Signed1930 Ray-o-print Lou Gehrig Ex Hof Yankees1931 W517 Reprint Set (1-54) Include Babe Ruth, Lou Gehrig, Roger HornsbyJoe Dimaggio Autographed 8x10 Photo ." With Lou Gehrig ".....certifiedSporting Life Knot Hole League - Lou Gehrig, New York Yankees2014 Topps Bunt Babe Ruth And Lou Gehrig (201) Nicknames Award Gold Virtual CardBabe Ruth Lou Gehrig New York Yankees Picture Wheel Cafe Menu Cincinnati RedsLou Gehrig Babe Ruth Earle Combs Tony Lazzeri 51 Style Reprint Custom Made 1/1 7/24/1938 White Sox @ Yankees Ticket Stub * Lou Gehrig * Lefty Gomez Shutout 2010 Topps Commemorative Patch *lou GehrigLou Gehrig Babe Ruth Tris Speaker Ty Cobb 51 Style Reprint Custom Made Aceo 1/1 2002 Topps Tribute 90 Card Complete Set Babe Ruth Nolan Ryan Brett Gehrig Mays2004 Elite Lou Gehrig Yankees / Ty Cobb Tigers Back To Back Jacks Dual Bat 21/50Edward Vela Lou Gehrig 7/9Lou Gehrig Babe Ruth Signed Rain Blo Gum Leaf Card Ny Yankees Read Listing