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 Lou Gehrig New York Yankees #37 Baseball Card1931 Babe Ruth & Lou Gehrig Signed Baseball *jsa Loa* Autographed Ball2013 Topps Triple Threads Six Game Used Bat Card Clemente, Williams, Gehrig 1/18Lou Gehrig New York Yankees Bobblehead Bobble Head Sga 7-2-2014 New Lou Gehrig 2014 14 Topps Allen & Ginter Sp Rip Mini Metal Parallel Hof Yankees1990 Lou Gehrig Hartland Statue1941 New York Yankees Lou Gehrig Memorial Ticket Stub Psa Graded 5 ExCharlie's Bar & Grill, Babe Ruth & Lou Gehrig Cards, Two Card LotLou Gehrig New York Yankees Bobblehead Bobble Head Sga 7-2-2014 New Lou Gehrig & Frank Crossetti Picture Pack Real Photos In Orig Envelope Nm #h27031928 Spalding Yankees Page 122 Babe Ruth Lou Gehrig Graded Sma Nm-mt 8Lou Gehrig Collectible Bobblehead - Limited Edition !Lou Gehrig New York Yankees Bobblehead Bobble Head Sga 7-2-2014 New 1973 Topps Lot 185 Cards 70 High Numbers & Stars Aaron Bench Seaver Ruth Gehrig2008 Prime Cuts Lefty Grove Lou Gehrig Joe Medwick Trios 3x Jersey #/25Collectible Lou Gehrig Bobble HeadLou Gehrig Game-used Memoribilla 2012 Topps Triple Threads 6/9Lou Gehrig 2014 Topps Allen And & Ginter Red Mini 21/33 Box Topper YankeesLou Gehrig 1961 Fleer Baseball Card #31 New York Yankees Hof1985 Donruss Wax Box Cards Lou Gehrig N.y.yankees With K. Puckett, Clemens Rc ExHighland Mint Ripken And Gehrig Silver Mini Card SetLou Gehrig BobbleheadCollectible Lou Gehrig BobbleheadHighland Mint Ripken And Gehrig Gold Mini Card Set2013 Topps Triple Threads Lou Gehrig Game Used Bat #4/36 *iron Horse*2014 Topps Baseball Card Cr-8 Lou Gehrig Rookie Ring Replica Class Of 1925 RelicPre Order Lou Gehrig BobbleheadBeautiful Childhood Lot Of 1962 Vintage Babe Ruth Baseball Cards W/ Lou Gehrig!!Bobblehead - Lou Gehrig(130) 2014 Topps Allen & Ginter Mini Insert Sp Lot No Dups Ripken Gehrig Maris +2003 Fleer Fall Classic Postseason Glory Gehrig Babe Ruth Yankees Bat 117/150Rare 8 Ct Lot 1948 Exhibit Hall Of Fame Greats Gehrig Ruth Walter Johnson Gd-vgLou Gehrig 2,130 Consecutive Games One Troy Ounce Silver Coin1927 Yankees Ruth Gehrig Apba Single Column Baseball Cards2014 Allen & Ginter's Lou Gehrig #41 Ture 1/1 Yankees 2014 Allen & Ginter Mini Lot (47) Kershaw Gehrig, Rivera, Darvish, FernandezEtopps Classics Baseball Lot Of 32 W/ Mantle, Gehrig, Ted Williams, Clemente Topps Proven Mettle Babe Ruth, Gehrig, Jeter, Cc And CanoNew York Yankees Sga Lou Gehrig Collectible #2 Le Bobblehead 7/2/2014 And TicketMen's Authentic Lou Gehrig Yankees Jersey Sz 3xlLou Gehrig Silver Card Coin 1 Ounce .999% Pure Silver1934 Spalding's Baseball Guide - Gashouse Gang - Dean, Gehrig, Ruth - Htf!!!Lot 2 Babe Ruth Lou Gehrig Starting Lineup Action Figure Yankees Slu VariantsLou Gehrig Grey Ny Yankees Bobble Head Mlb 2003 Cooperstown Collection Limited Lou Gehrig /75 $40+ Mint Yankees Green Refractor Sp 2013 88 Topps Tribute "gem"1961 Topps Setbreak Lou Gehrig Benched After 2,130 Games #405 Psa 9 Mint (pwcc)Babe Ruth/lou Gehrig/ty Cobb Signed Autographed Replica Onl Baseball Red & Black *** New York Yankees Lou Gehrig 1939 Throwback JerseyVintage New York Yankees Jersey #4 Gehrig Size 2xl MajesticBabe Ruth And Lou Gehrig Signed Jersey Framed Vintage Pinstrip Flannel Hof RpLongton Crown 1996 Pewter Figurines Lou Gehrig Luckiest Man 98016(44) 2014 Allen And Ginter Yankees Lot, No Dupes, Tanaka, Ruth - Gehrig Mini(61) 2014 Topps Allen & Ginter A&g Back Mini Insert Sp Lot No Dups Gehrig Puig +Lou Gehrig New York Yankees 1939 Nickel Insert Baseball Coin Card Rare1973 Smithsonion Lou Gehrig Playing Card Graded 9 Mint1960 Fleer #28 Lou Gehrig Psa 8 Nm-mt Card Yankees HofBaseball, Gehrig Ken Wel Original Glove Ad From 1928 And Ken Wel Calendar 194942 - 2014 Topps Allen & Ginter - Mini Card Lot - With Ty Cobb, Lou Gehrig, +Lou Gehrig Baseball Mcfarlane Legends 2008 New York Yankees Loose1961 Topps #405 Lou Gehrig Benched After 2130 Games Yankees Hof Centered Ex+ $80