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    

1928 Wsc Yankees Team Signed Baseball W/ Lou Gehrig Lazzeri Pipgras + Jsa Loa1932 Wsc Yankees Team Signed Baseball W/ Lou Gehrig Combs Sewell Gomez + Jsa LoaOriginal 1930's Pinch Hitter Mechanical Baseball Metal Pinball Game Gehrig Grove1937 New York Yankees, Giants, Brooklyn Dodgers Yearbook Program Gehrig Dimag!1928 World Series Program Yankees @ St. Louis Cardinals Yanks Sweep Ruth Gehrig!1938 World Series Program Yankees @ Chicago Cubs Gehrig Dimaggio Hartnett HermanLou Gehrig Sweet Spot Single Signed Baseball Auto Autograph Jsa Loa Yankees Hof1932 U.s. Us Caramel Lou Gehrig #26 Psa Authentic. Rare. Only One On Ebay!1927 Lou Gehrig 3 Of Clubs Graded A Good 2 By Psa.1962 Topps Venezuelan Babe Ruth Special's Complete Set Gehrig, Venezuela Spanish2004 Playoff Prime Cuts Babe Ruth & Lou Gehrig Game Used Materials Card #6/92001 Donruss Throwback Threads Lou Gehrig Game-used Jersey #d 83/100 Pinstripe1935 Ny Yankees V St Louis Browns Game Signed Baseball W Gehrig Hornsby LazzeriLou Gehrig 2017 Topps Allen & Ginter Rip Card 34/60 Unripped Yankees2017 Topps Allen And Ginter Lou Gehrig Rip Card #8/60 Yankees UnrippedHelmar Polar Night #204 Lou Gehrig Columbia University First TimeVintage Lou Gehrig Yankees Louisville Slugger 16" Baseball Bat 40Lou Gehrig 2017 Topps Series 2 #482 Rare Legends Photo Variation Sp Ssp Yankees2016 Panini Flawless Lou Gehrig Bob Meusel Tony Lazzeri 3x Jersey #/25 EncasedLou Gehrig 2000 Upper Deck Legendary Pinstripes Jersey Yankees M11961 Golden Press Complete Baseball Set In Book 33 Cards Babe Ruth Lou Gehrig KgLou Gehrig 2003 Donruss Classics Legendary Lumber Game Used Bat 76/802017 Topps Series 2 Lou Gehrig Ssp Variation Card #482 New York Yankees Mlb 2017 Allen & Ginter Base Foil Sp Lot Of 117 Harper Gehrig Koufax Correa ClementeLou Gehrig-playing Streak Ended-baseball Magazine-august 1939- Historic IssueLou Gehrig 2014 Minnesota Twins Version Sga Bobblehead New York Yankees July 41934 Goudey Big League Gum 1985 Reprint 96 Baseball Card Set Ruth, Gehrig, Etc(135) 2017 Topps Allen & Ginter Sp Foil Hot Box Lot~brett~jeter~bo~correa~gehrigLou Gehrig 2017 Allen & Ginter Rip Card #06/60 New York Yankees UnrippedLou Gehrig Bobblehead 2014 Collectible #2Ashton-drake Legends Series Mlb Lou Gehrig The Iron Horse Doll Iob W/ CoaLou Gehrig Yankees 2012 Prime Cuts Timeline Materials Quad Relic Card Bgs 9.5Lou Gehrig #34 Sketch Card Limited 4/50 Edward Vela Signed1934 Lou Gehrig - Babe Ruth New York Yankees Al 1-2 Punch 8x10 Photo2417 Lou Gehrig Mnh Sheet Cv $48.50 Face Value $12.50Fine Original 1937 New York Yankees Baseball Team Photo - Gehrig Dimaggio2017 Topps Allen & Ginter Lou Gehrig Framed Mini Silk Cloth #6/10 YankeesLou Gehrig New York Yankees "premier Issue" Beer Stein From The Bradford Museum 1920's Lou Gehrig Louisville Slugger 125 35 Bat! No Reserve!!!!2017 Topps Museum Collection 5x7 Gold #04/10 Lou Gehrig New York Yankees Jersey#Babe Ruth/lou Gehrig 2015 Panini Hof Ruby #ed 15/15 Hof 1990 Hartland Lou Gehrig Limited Edition Statue Mib With Original Bag PackagingLou Gehrig #34 Sketch Card Limited 2/50 Edward Vela SignedWrist Watch Lou Gehrig Baseball Fan Collectors Watch!!Lou Gehrig 257 Red Brooklyn Back /25 2017 Topps Allen & Ginter Yankees1933 Goudey Lou Gehrig Rookie Card,big League,ungraded2011 Topps National Convention Vip Pack - 1961 Topps - Mantle, Maris, GehrigRare 1953 Baseball Immortals - Story Of Babe Ruth & Lou Gehrig -new York Yankees1971 Fleer W.s.-# 26-lou Gehrig-psa 8-nm-mt! No Reserve! Free Shipping!1972 Kellogg's Set Break # 13 Lou Gehrig Nr-mint I15978Lou Gehrig 1960 Nu-card Hi-lites #24 - New York Yankees - Mint Condition!!!Lou Gehrig & Babe Ruth #11 Sketch Card Limited 9/50 Edward Vela SignedLou Gehrig & Babe Ruth #10 Sketch Card Limited 24/25 Edward Vela SignedLou Gehrig #34 Sketch Card Limited 3/50 Edward Vela SignedLot Of 12, 1976 Topps All Time All Stars Lou Gehrig Ty Cobb Honus WagnerLou Gehrig #33 Sketch Card Limited 9/50 Edward Vela SignedBabe Ruth/lou Gehrig 70th Anniversary Autographed 23kt Gold CardStarting Lineup Ruth And Gehrig Baseball Greats New And UnopenedTopps Gypsy Queen 50 Card Mixed Year Mini Lot With Star Gehrig Maris KoufaxC 1996 Danbury Mint 22k Gold Lot Of 14 Gehrig Speaker Killebrew