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    

1927 Babe Ruth New York Yankees Autograph Signed Lou Gehrig Team Baseball NrBabe Ruth & Lou Gehrig Signed 1928 Wsc Yankees Team Baseball 25 Auto 's Jsa Loa1937 Who's Who In Baseball - Lou Gehrig New York Yankees On CoverLou Gehrig Babe Ruth Signed Baseball New York Yankees Read ListingOriginal 1935 Lou Gehrig Wheaties Cereal Box Card New York Yankees Scarce!1934 Goudey #61 Lou Gehrig New York Yankees Hof Psa 4 Vg-ex1933 Goudey #92 Lou Gehrig New York Yankees Hof Psa 2.5 Good+Complete Set 1961 Nu Card Baseball Scoops Mantle Ruth Gehrig Aaron Many OthersVtg 1936 Wheaties Lou Gehrig New York Yankees Cereal Box Card Back Panel2016 Immaculate Gold Babe Ruth Gehrig Dickey Huggins Jersey Bat 03/15 Jersey#1933 Goudey Lou Gehrig Psa2008 Playoff Prime Cuts Gehrig-robinson-thorpe Game Used Material #d #19/252009 Topps Sterling Lou Gehrig New York Yankees Jersey Bat 3/251948 Topps Magic Photo #14 Lou Gehrig Hof Sgc 50 Vg-ex 42011 Topps Cal Ripken Jr. Lou Gehrig Topps 60 Dual Game Jersey #d/50 Ultra Rare2008 Topps Triple Threads Lou Gehrig Bat 34/36Lou Gehrig Bat Relic #205/399!!! 2011 Topps Tier One # Tsr-27! Hof Yankees!!!1933-babe Ruth- Lou Gehrig-ny Yankees Vs Chicago White Sox-score Card Program1962 Topps Babe Ruth 11 Card Lot Gehrig 138 136 139 140 141 142 144 Vgex-ex1961 Golden Press Set Lot 32/33 Dimaggio Cobb Gehrig Wagner Ott Greenberg Nice2008 Topps Triple Threads Red Lou Gehrig Hof Yankees Triple Bat 28/362016 Topps Transcendent Lou Gehrig Silver Framed Base Card #65/65 Ny Yankees 1961 Topps Setbreak Lou Gehrig Benched After 2,130 Games #405 Psa 8 Nm-mt (pwcc)2003 Topps Tribute All-star Edition Lou Gehrig Game Used Bat Ny Yankees2017 Topps Tribute Base 54 Base Card Lot Ruth Seager Koufax Mazara Aaron GehrigRare Lou Gehrig 1939, Cavalcade Of Sports Series 1967 .999 Silver Medal2007 Ud Premier Stitchings Cal Ripken & Lou Gehrig Iron Men Patch 34/35 Hof1936 Lou Gehrig New York Yankees Al " World Series " Action 8x10 Photo ! 1939 Baseball Magazine Classic Lou Gehrig Hitting Streak Ends Cover Ex+ Lou Gehrig 2003 Topps Gallery Hof Currency Connection Relic1972 Kellogg's All-time Baseball Greats #13 Lou Gehrig Psa 9 (mint) * Hofer *1942 Lou Gehrig Memorial Baseball Poster From Heilbroner Baseball Bureau NmStance Crew Socks Combed Cotton Lou Gehrig Mlb Legends Collection Baseball L-xl1972 Press Photo Lou Gehrig Of The Yankees Wipes Away Tears On Farewell DayLou Gehrig 2015 Panini Cooperstown 10/10 Gold Etched InLou Gehrig & Babe Ruth #8 Sketch Card Limited 2/25 Edward Vela SignedLou Gehrig & Babe Ruth #8 Sketch Card Limited 5/25 Edward Vela SignedLou Gehrig #30 Sketch Card Limited 4/25 Edward Vela SignedSt.petersburg,florida-ny Yankees Training-#32233-c1930s-lou Gehrig In Cameo Hj24Lou Gehrig & Babe Ruth #8 Sketch Card Limited 4/25 Edward Vela Signed2009 Topps Lou Gehrig Ny Yankees 1933 All-star Game Commemorative Patch2009 Topps Legends Commemorative Patch Lou Gehrig Card Lpr-562012 Topps Historical Stitches Patch Card Lou Gehrig #hs-lgLou Gehrig #84 - 2017 Topps Tribute New York YankeesLou Gehrig & Babe Ruth #8 Sketch Card Limited 3/25 Edward Vela SignedLou Gehrig #30 Sketch Card Limited 7/25 Edward Vela SignedLou Gehrig & Babe Ruth #8 Sketch Card Limited 6/25 Edward Vela SignedLou Gehrig #30 Sketch Card Limited 5/25 Edward Vela SignedRare Lou Gehrig 2003 Topps Tribute Game-used Bat Relic CardDr Jim Stamps Us Lou Gehrig Multi Franked Fdc Cover Baseball Hall Of Fame 1989(7) 2017 Topps Tribute Yankees Lot Loaded Ruth, Gehrig, Maris, Ford + Yankees1980 History Of American League Baseball Book Babe Ruth Lou Gehrig Etc.2017 Gypsy Queen Yankees High Number Sp Lot Ruth, Gehrig, Ford 1961 Topps Baseball Thrills Card #405 Lou Gehrig Benched After 2,130 Games2017 Topps Gypsy Queen 310 Lou Gehrig High Number Sp Short Print1976 Topps Set Break #341 Lou Gehrig Nm-mt E236971973 Topps Lou Gehrig # 472 Lot X2Vintage Style Lou Gehrig Wheaties Cereal Promo / Advertising Card .free ShippingVintage Style Babe Ruth & Lou Gehrig Sporting News Promo Ad Card Free ShippingU.s. Fdc #2417 Eleanor Gehrig Estate Cachet - Honoring Lou Gehrig