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    

2014 Lou Gehrig 75th Anniversary Speech Als Mlb Jersey PatchFine Lou Gehrig Memorial Game July 4, 1941 Baseball Ticket Stub Ny Yankees Nice!1930's "lou Gehrig" Base Mitt, Great Condition, Unique Style!2014 Als Lou Gehrig Speech Patch Mlb BaseballLou Gehrig 75th Anniversary Speech Als Jersey Patch - Team Issued2001 Topps Tribute Lou Gehrig Game Used Bat New York Yankees Topps Sticker BackVintage 1933 Delong Gum Lou Gehrig New York Yankees #7 Hof1962 Topps Gehrig & Ruth (green Tint) #140 ... Graded Psa 8 Nm-mt ... CenteredLou Gehrig 1927 Original Low Grade Exhibit Supply Card. Beater! 2014 Als Lou Gehrig Speech Patch Baseball 75th Anniversary2003 Fleer Fall Classic Lou Gehrig Babe Ruth New York Yankees Bat 80/150Autographed Lou Gehrig BaseballPediped Gehrig Size 6-6.5 Eu 22 Toddler Boys Shoes Gray Orange Grip N Go2014 Nscc National Promo 1936 Diamond Stars Lou Gehrig 278/500 Psa Yankees Hof2014 Nscc National Promo 1936 Diamond Stars Lou Gehrig 344/500 Psa Yankees HofLou Gehrig Piedmont Old Liberty Art Card W/1923 Dime…extremely Rare1936 R311 Glossy Premium Yankees Gehrig Dickey Sewell Lazerri Ruffing($1,000) Babe Ruth & Lou Gehrig Original 1973 Old & Vintage Mint & Rare1976 Topps #341 Lou Gehrig All Time All-star Yankees Psa 9 *459303Honus Wagner T206 Babe Ruth Lou Gehrig Vintage Reprint Baseball Cards Lot (27)1962 Topps #140 Babe Ruth Special: Gehrig And Ruth Centered Ex/ex+ $60($100) Lou Gehrig Ny Yankees 25c Usa Postage Stamps Block Graded Asg10 Mint 1985 Donruss Wax Box Cards Lou Gehrig N.y.yankees With K. Puckett, Clemens Rc ExOriginal New York Yankee Stadium Seat Chair Jeter Ruth Gehrig Dimaggio MantleR319-helmar Big League #33 Lou Gehrig New York Yankees Hof1938 New York Yankees Spring Training Player Roster/itinerary Gehrig Dimaggio+($1,000) Babe Ruth & Lou Gehrig Original 1973 Old & Vintage Mint & Rare1962 Topps #140 Babe Ruth Lou Gehrig Card($100) Lou Gehrig Ny Yankees 25c Usa Postage Stamps Block Graded Asg10 Mint Lou Gehrig Dickey Gomez Lazzeri 1935 Exhibit 4 On 1 Psa Vg-ex 42014 Topps Allen & Ginter Lou Gehrig Wood Card #1/1 Super Rare! Yankees 2010 Triple Threads Cut Game Used Bat Lou Gehrig Yankees LegendsLou Gehrig Bobblehead Limited Edition Twins Yankees July 4th 75th Anniversary *** New York Yankees Lou Gehrig 1939 Throwback Jersey1989 Lou Gehrig Bobble Head Nodder Bobbin Head Doll Nodders IncJuly 4 2014 Lou Gehrig Minnesota Twins Exclusive Bobblehead Giveaway 1 Of 10,0001938 Pm8 Our National Game Baseball Pin Tab Button - Lou Gehrig New York Yankees1950 Callahan Baseball Hof Set - Lou Gehrig - Ex/m +1933 Goudey Gum Company Lou Gehrig #160!1960 Fleer #28 Lou Gehrig Yankees (ex/mt) [mc] *459217($475) Lou Gehrig & Joe Dimaggio 1936 Coin Puzzle Card 1 Cent Graded Asg102014 National Sports Collectors Convention (nscc) Psa Promo Set 305/500 - Ruth(22014 New York Yankees Lou Gehrig Bobblehead Sga Minnesota Twins Target FieldLou Gehrig A Quiet Hero 1942 By Frank Graham New York YankeesLot Of ( 12 ) 1971 Topps Stars Clemente, Mays, Rose, Jackson, Ruth, Gehrig, Etc.Mcfarlane Mlb Cooperstown Collection Series 6 Lou Gehrig Yankees($475) Lou Gehrig New York Yankees 1969 Coin Puzzle Card One Cent Graded Asg10 Lou Gehrig 1933 Delong # 7 Reprint In Good Condition!!!Babe Ruth/lou Gehrig/ty Cobb Signed Autographed Replica Oal Baseball 1926-27New York Yankees Lou Gehrig Jersey Style T-shirt Majestic S Mlb Baseball1942 Vintage Lou Gehrig Baseball A Quiet Hero Frank Graham Photo 1st Ed Book#2417 #2016 Lou Gehrig Fdc (hand Drawn Hand Painted Kc/rm) #2/32014 Topps Rookie Class Of 1925 Commemorative Ring Lou Gehrig #cr-875th Anniversary - Lou Gehrig Speech Base Jewel Sticker2014 Allen & Ginter Lot Of (120) Diifer Mini Cards W/ 27 High # Sp - Puig Gehrig($500) Babe Ruth & Lou Gehrig 1973 Smithsonian Lot Non Rookie Auto Graded 10Lou Gehrig Ace Charlie Delgado Scarce Fdc Cooperstown + Ny Yankee Hologram2014 Topps Series 1 Lou Gehrig Rookie Class Rings Set 1925 #cr-8 Yankees($200) Lou Gehrig & Joe Dimaggio 1/1 Master File Proof 1936 Coin Card 5c May 1952 Baseball Magazine Phil Rizzuto Richie Ashburn Lou Gehrig Babe Ruth