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    

2015 Immaculate Babe Ruth Ty Cobb Lou Gehrig Sp Vintage Jersey Patch Bat #22/252015 Topps Museum Collection Cut Signatures Lou Gehrig Auto 1/1 Super Rare1934 Goudey Lou Gehrig #61 Psa 5 Ex (pwcc)1933 Goudey Lou Gehrig #92 Psa 3 Vg (pwcc)1934 Goudey Lou Gehrig Yankees Baseball Card #61 Psa 4 High End Centering2015 Immaculate Babe Ruth Lou Gehrig Dual Game Used Bat 11/20 1934 Goudey Lou Gehrig #61 Bvg 3.5 Vg+ (pwcc)1933 Goudey Lou Gehrig #92 Psa 1 Pr (pwcc)1933 Goudey Lou Gehrig #160 Sgc 1.5/20 Fr (pwcc)2015 Panini Immaculate Ty Cobb Babe Ruth Lou Gehrig Triple Jersey Bat 16/25Babe Ruth And Lou Gehrig Dual Signed Baseball Psa/dna2015 Ted Williams Lou Gehrig Clemente Musial Immaculate Game Used Relic #48/492015 Panini Immaculate Lou Gehrig Wool Jsy Jersey #d 6/10 Accolades Yankees1935 Wheaties Series 1 Lou Gehrig Sgc 3/40 Vg (pwcc)1933 Goudey Lou Gehrig #92 Sgc 2/30 Gd (pwcc)1934 Goudey Lou Gehrig #61 Sgc 1.5/20 Fr (pwcc)Lou Gehrig Immaculate 2015 Jersey /20Lot(12) 1930 Mp & Co Ray O Print W/ Babe Ruth X2 & Lou Gehrig, Rare (pwcc)1928 New York Yankees Signed Baseball Babe Ruth Autograph Gehrig Jsa Hof ReadLou Gehrig New York Yankees Bobblehead Bobble Head Sga 7-2-2014 Farewell Speech1933 Goudey Lou Gehrig #92 Sgc 55 4.5 Vg-ex + Yankees2015 Panini Immaculate Lou Gehrig Accolades Bat Relic #22/25 Ny YankeesRuth/cobb/clemente/gehrig 2015 Immaculate Baseball Quad Relic # 1/10 Lou Gehrig 2015 Panini Immaculate Accolades Bat Relic #17/25! Yankees! Wow! Rare1927 W560 Strip Card Lou Gehrig 3 Of Clubs Psa 3 Vg (pwcc)2015 Immaculate Collection Williams,musial,clemente & Gehrig 28/49 Game Used !!!Lot 2 1934 Goudey Baseball Card Wrapper Big League Chewing Gum Lou Gehrig SeriesLou Gehrig New York Yankees Bobblehead Bobble Head Sga 7-2-2014 Farewell Speech1951 Topps Connie Mack's All-stars Lou Gehrig Psa 5 Ex (pwcc)Lou Gehrig 2015 Immaculate /25 Game Used Bat Relic Card - New York YankeesLot 5 1934 Goudey Baseball Card Wrapper Big League Chewing Gum Lou Gehrig SeriesDanbury Mint All Star Figurine Lou Gehrig New York YankeesLot 2 1934 Goudey Baseball Card Wrapper Big League Chewing Gum Lou Gehrig Series1928 Babe Ruth & Lou Gehrig & N.y. Yankees At Tigers Orig. Baseball Game ProgramRare Vintage 1930’s Wheaties Cereal Box Panel Lou Gehrig New York Yankees 2009 Topps Heritage American Heroes Of Sport Lou Gehrig Patch Nr Mint+-yankees*1933 Goudey #92 Lou Gehrig Graded Good (mk)Kashin 1927 Babe Ruth/lou Gehrig Combo Baseball CardsLot 4 1934 Goudey Baseball Card Wrapper Big League Chewing Gum Lou Gehrig Series1939 Lou Gehrig & Joe Dimaggio & Yankees Hosting Ted Williams & Red Sox Program($300) Babe Ruth & Lou Gehrig 1979 Old & Vintage Black & White Graded 10 1990 Lou Gehrig New York Yankees Hartland Baseball Statue Mint In Original Box2015 Immaculate Babe Ruth/lou Gehrig Dual Game-used Bat #18/20! New York YankeesAuthentic Majestic Cooperstown Xl New York Yankees Lou Gehrig Jersey #4Superb 1927 World Series Vintage Type 3 Photo Babe Ruth Hits Home Run Lou GehrigLou Gehrig Ny Yankees BobbleheadSporting Life T-size Gold Border Series- Lou Gehrig, New York Yankees2015 Panini Diamond Kings '27 Timeline Babe Ruth & Lou Gehrig 4/10 Yankees Relic1948 Baseball's Great Hof Exhibits Lou Gehrig Sgc 5.5 Ex+ (pwcc)1961 Fleer #31 Lou Gehrig Psa 7 Nm YankeesTopps Bunt Lou Gehrig Legendary Flannel Limited Digital Card TraderStan Musial Hof Missouri Lou Gehrig Bobblehead Lot Sga Cardinals YankeesKkx 2015 Panini Etched In Cooperstown Lou Gehrig #47 Ruby Gem #06/15 YankeesBabe Ruth Lou Gehrig And Ty Cobb Signature Minature Statues 1970's 1979 ?? MintBaseball: 1912 Columbia University Bb Grounds; Lou Gehrig-related; Real Photo PcLou Gehrig 2130 Consecutive Games Commemorative Collector Knife By Franklin MintLou Gehrig 1960 Fleer #28 Graded Nm 7 By Psa Baseball Hall Of Fame Ny Yankees1968 Fleer Laughlin World Series Lot Of 40 4- 66 Gehrig Cobb Yankees Partial Set1 - Lou Gehrig T-206 - Etopps1933 - Goudey - Lou Gehrig - Rookie - Gem Mint 10 - Baseball Card!!!