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    

1933 Goudey Lou Gehrig #92 Psa 2 Gd (pwcc)Babe Ruth/lou Gehrig #4/5 Dual Jersey/bat Relic 2016 Panini Prime Cuts YankeesLou 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 2/15Lou Gehrig 16 Diamond Kings~ Emerald Framed Var. Jersey/bat~#1/5Danbury Mint Baseball Legends Chess Set - Ruth, Gehrig, Mays, Cobb, Williams1933 Goudey Lou GehrigLou Gehrig 2015 Immaculate Equipment Quad Game Jersey Bat Relics #12/15 Rr32632016 Panini Pantheon Lou Gehrig Greenberg Jimmie Foxx Wilson 4x Jersey Bat #1/4 1934 Goudey Lou Gehrig Series Baseball Cards Original, Empty Wrapper1930's Lou Gehrig & Bill Dickey New York Yankees Orig Glass Baseball Shaped Bank1931 W517 Authentic Hall Of Fame Baseball Card Lot. Ruth, Gehrig, More!2008 Donruss Celebrity Cuts Lou Gehrig Memorabila #/50 Encased C038602014 Topps Bunt Babe Ruth Lou Gehrig (77) Dual Signature Sig Virtual CardDanbury Mint Lou Gehrig Figure New York Yankees1937 Boston Red Sox Program Scorecard Vs New York Yankees Dimaggio, Lou Gehrig 2015 National Treasures #35 Lou Gehrig Hof Bat 36/991962 Topps Lou Gehrig & Babe Ruth #140 Psa 7 Nrmt (pwcc)1962 Topps Babe Ruth Lot: #136 138 140 141 142 143 With Lou Gehrig & Green Tint1961 Topps Hof Lot: Gehrig Banks Fox Rizzuto Hodges Leaders With Aaron Clemente 1950 Callahan Hof Lou Gehrig New York Yankees Psa 8.5 Nm-mt+ Centered1934 Goudey Lou Gehrig # 61 Psa Graded - Pr11934 Goudey Lou Gehrig Card Psa 2 Good (mc) Not Trimmed1960 Fleer Yankees Hof Lot: #3 Babe Ruth #28 Lou Gehrig #54 Lefty GomezLou Gehrig 2010 Topps Sterling Quad Jersey 1/1 1of1New York Yankees Lou Gehrig 07/02/2014 Sga Bobblehead New1937 Senators At Yankees Scorecard Lou Gehrig, Joe Dimaggio, Dickey Hr Scored1934 Tigers At Yankees Scorecard Ruth Dickey Greenberg, Lou Gehrig Hr Scored !!!2007 Sweet Spot Classic Pinstripe Lou Gehrig Nm-mint Game Used Jersey Patch1961 Fleer Lou Gehrig #31 Baseball Greats New York Yankess Hof Original2014 Panini Immaculate Collection Ny Yankees Hof Lou Gehrig Relic Bat Card #2/991934 Tigers At Yankees Scorecard Ruth Gehrig Greenberg Dickey Hr Scored !!!Gehrig Jeter Dimaggio Mantle Ruth Signed Baseball Card Gem Mint 10 Read ListingGehrig Jeter Dimaggio Mantle Ruth Signed Baseball Card Read Listing2015 Topps Tribute New York Yankees Lou Gehrig Bat Relic #37/50 Nm/mtLou Gehrig 2005 Ud Hall Of Fame 1939 Materials Bat 13/151962 Topps Baseball Babe Ruth Special Lou Gehrig Green Tint Variation #1401930 Ray-o-print Lou Gehrig Ex Hof Yankees1933 Who's Who In American Baseball By Johnson. Babe Ruth, Lou Gehrig, Ty Cobb1961 Topps Baseball Thrills Lot Of 15 Gehrig Hornsby Johnson Fair To ExHuntsville Stars Lou Gehrig Bobblehead Stadium Giveaway1931 W517 Reprint Set (1-54) Include Babe Ruth, Lou Gehrig, Roger HornsbyLou Gehrig & Babe Ruth #6 Sketch Card Limited 10/25 Edward Vela Signed1934 Goudy Lou Gehrig #61 W($200) Lou Gehrig New York Yankees 1979 Black & White Rare Vintage Card1961 Golden Press #16 Lou Gehrig Psa 6 Ex Mt Hof2014 Topps Bunt Babe Ruth And Lou Gehrig (201) Nicknames Award Gold Virtual Card(20) Unidentified Or Reprint Baseball Cards Gehrig Greenberg Feller2016 Topps Bunt Lou Gehrig New York Yankees Gold Fire Insert 71cc *digital Card*Las Vegas Club Las Vegas,nv 1927 Home Run Chip $10 Lou Gehrig & Babe Ruth Lou Gehrig Babe Ruth Earle Combs Tony Lazzeri 51 Style Reprint Custom Made 1/1 Starting Lineup Baseball Greats Babe Ruth/lou Gehrig Action Figures($200) Babe Ruth & Lou Gehrig 1979 Black & White Rare Vintage Card1962 Topps Baseball Card Lot (22) With #140 Babe Ruth / Lou Gehrig Vgex / Ex 1962 Topps #140 Gehrig And Ruth VgLou Gehrig Babe Ruth Tris Speaker Ty Cobb 51 Style Reprint Custom Made Aceo 1/1 Lou Gehrig 1933 Goudey Baseball Card #160 Selling As Vintaged Reprint!!2003 Ud Yankees Signature Series 90 Card Set Ruth Mantle Dimaggio Gehrig ++1934 Lou Gehrig New York Yankees Al Hof W/ Bat 8x10 Photo ! Beauty