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    

Babe Ruth Lou Gehrig Honus Wagner Hornsby Waner +21 Hof Signed Baseball Jsa Coa1933 Lou Gehrig Goudey #92 Psa 5 Excellent Hof Best Ever 92 Centered Compare 6's1932 Original Photo Babe Ruth, Lou Gehrig & New York Yankees - World Champions1928 Original Photo Babe Ruth, Lou Gehrig & New York Yankees - World Champions1933 Goudey World Wide Gum #55 Lou Gehrig First Graded Gai 5 ExExceptional 1940's Vintage Photo Lou Gehrig Yankees With Bats In 19341936 Ny Yankees And Giants Signed Autographed Baseball Lou Gehrig Jsa Y84091Ferrari Swb 250 Nos Aurora Thunderjet 500 T-jet Tyco Faller Atlas Bauer Gehrig 1934 Original Photo Negative Lou Gehrig Yankees With A Kid By George Burke1937 Original Photo Lou Gehrig & Joe Dimaggio Signing New York Yankees Conracts2011 Topps Triple Threads Lou Gehrig Game Worn JerseyBabe Ruth/lou Gehrig #3/5 Dual Jersey/bat Relic 2016 Panini Prime Cuts Yankees1933 Goudey Lou Gehrig #92 Vgex Psa 42010 Topps Sterling Career Chronicles Lou Gehrig Patch /25 Bgs 9.5 Gem Mt (pwcc)1937 Original Photo Lou Gehrig Yankees Home Run In Milestone 1,900 Career GameTriumph Gt6 Gt Nos Aurora Thunderjet 500 T-jet Tyco Faller Atlas Bauer Gehrig Lou Gehrig -jimmie Foxx Etc. Autographed Baseball2001 Upper Deck Hall Of Famers Lou Gehrig Jeresey Yankees Baseball Card2003 Leaf Certified Materials Fabric Of Game Lou Gehrig Patch /38 Bgs 9.5 (pwcc)Lou Gehrig 2010 Topps Sterling 6x Game Worn Jersey Relic Insert Card # 1/11930's Original Photo Lou Gehrig New York Yankees Candid Shot In A SuitLou Gehrig 2014 Immaculate Accolades Game Used Bat Card #/99 New York YankeesLou Gehrig Bobblehead1961 1962 Topps Babe Ruth Lou Gehrig Yankees Baseball Card Lot 5 Hofers Wow!!2001 Elite Babe Ruth Lou Gehrig Back 2 Back Jacks Dual Game-used Bat #/50! (1)2004 Leaf Certified Hof Souvenirs Lou Gehrig Patch /25 Bgs 9.5 Gem Mint (pwcc)Lou Gehrig Game-used Memorabilia 2008 Topps Sterling 9/102001 Elite Babe Ruth Lou Gehrig Back 2 Back Jacks Dual Game-used Bat #/50! (2)2015 Panini National Treasures Bat Relic Lou Gehrig New York Yankees Hof /99 #351960-1971 Hof Lot: Ruth Gehrig Maris Reggie Jackson Pete Rose Topps FleerStance New York Yankees Lou Gehrig Mlb Legends Collection Socks S/m Iron Horse2012 Prime Cuts Lou Gehrig Timeline Player Quads Gu 4x Bat Jersey #/252015 Diamond Kings Lou Gehrig Game Used Material 7/25 Bgs 9.51939 Original Photo Lou Gehrig & Joe Mccarthy New York Yankees World Series1930's Original Photo Babe Dahlgren Portrait Yankees Replaced Lou Gehrig1960 Fleer Lot: #28 Lou Gehrig 42 Ty Cobb 44 Cap Anson 59 Grimes 60 Lefty Grove1961 Fleer Baseball No. 31 Lou GehrigJune 3, 1941 Chicago Newspaper: Ny Yankees Great Lou Gehrig Dead 1963 Lou Gehrig Hof Bust Hall Of Fame Collector's Series1937 Original Photo Lou Gehrig New York Yankees Baseball Star In HollywoodLou Gehrig | 2016 Topps Dynasty 15b0x 3 Case Break #21962 Topps #140 Babe Ruth Special Lou Gehrig And Babe Ruth (ex/mt) *6255022011 Topps Diamond Anniversary Sp #5 Lou Gehrig (yankees)(8) 2002 Donruss All Time Diamond Kings Lot Ripken Gehrig Ted Williams /25001960 Fleer Lou Gehrig #28 - Psa Grade 8 - Nm-mt. Very Nice! Nyy Great!Banty Red Double Headers "1936" Jimmie Foxx/lou Gehrig, Red Sox, Yankees Lot-171R319-helmar Big League #338 Lou Gehrig New York Yankees Hof1961 Fleer #31 Lou Gehrig Yankees (ex) *625492Sporting Life Redemption Card -series 3, Lou Gehrig, New York, A.l.2008 Donruss Century Celebrity Cuts #53 Lou Gehrig Dual Jersey 17/50 *m154Lou Gehrig $30+ Yankees Legends Gold Refractor #gc16 Sp 2010 Topps Chrome TargetLou Gehrig Bob Feller Josh Gibson Mickey Mantle Joe Jackson Bgs Pop 3 HelmarLou Gehrig Roberto Clemente Stan Musial Willie Mays T330 Bgs Pop 3 Helmar StripLou Gehrig Autographed 1936 Goudey World Wide Gum Baseball Card Reprint1942 Original Photo Gary Cooper As Lou Gehrig In Pride Of The YankeesBanty Red Football Large "1922" Lou Gehrig, Columbia University, Lot-1401962 Topps Set Break #140 Gehrig And Ruth Babe Ruth Lou Gehrig Nr/mint 49164cRuth Mantle Cobb Gehrig Ali Wagner Sports Trading Card Binder Lot Read Listing1956 Sunday News Comic Section Lou Gehrig & Babe Ruth Ad Brenda Starr Sgt. BilkoPsa 10 Babe Ruth 1993 Ud Lou Gehrig All-time Heroes Baseball Card Upper Deck