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Lot
81216

1927 Lou Gehrig Game Worn New York Yankees Jersey....

2010 November Dallas Signature Sports Collectibles Auction #7028

 
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Auction Ended On: Nov 5, 2010
Item Activity: 8 Internet/mail/phone bidders
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Location: Heritage Auctions
3500 Maple Avenue
Dallas, TX 75219
Description:
1927 Lou Gehrig Game Worn New York Yankees Jersey. Through a history that has seen forty American League flags take to the cool Harlem River breeze that flutters past Yankee Stadium, perhaps no squad has been more dominant than the 1927 team. With a batting order called Murderer's Row for obvious reasons, the team delivered the most devastating three-four punch for its historical context that the game has ever seen. This is not opinion, it's empirical fact. Ruth's sixty circuits in 1927 was trailed by Gehrig's forty-seven. Third place (fellow Yank Tony Lazzeri) was eighteen. In fact, the duo of Ruth and Gehrig produced more than twice the home run output of every other American League team with the exception of the Philadelphia Athletics, who just avoided being doubled with fifty-six.

Equally staggering are the numbers for every other significant offensive category. Slugging percentage, total bases, runs scored, bases on balls, times on base and runs batted in all found Larrupin' Lou and Bustin' Babe sharing the gold and silver, and typically so far out in front as to appear just specks on the horizon to the third place runner. Such could be said for the Yankee squad itself that season, who carried an Opening Day victory onward through 154 games, never trailing the pennant chase a single day and finishing nineteen games ahead of a Philadelphia Athletics team boasting Cobb, Foxx, Cochrane, Grove, etc. The National League Champion Pittsburgh Pirates could play nothing but the role of victim in the 1927 World Series, a Fall Classic many have surmised the Bucs forfeited in their hearts after watching Lou and the Babe take batting practice before Game One. It was a quick and merciful four-game sweep.

Gehrig was once quoted as saying, "I'm not a headline guy. I know that as long as I was following Ruth to the plate I could have stood on my head and no one would have known the difference." Despite the fact that he chose to record his first great season the Summer and Fall that the Babe knocked out sixty, the headline writers did not fail to notice the hometown boy from Columbia University. With one top newspaper man from each American League city casting a vote for Most Valuable Player, Henry Louis Gehrig was once again found at the leading edge of a vast divide between himself and the "also-rans," earning seven first-place votes for a landslide victory. While the legend of the indestructible Iron Horse would only continue to grow through the many hundreds of consecutive games that would follow, the season of 1927 was Gehrig's announcement to the baseball world that there was another unimaginably mighty bat in the House that Ruth Built.

Any attempt at expounding upon the tremendous significance of the pinstriped jersey from that season that we present here seems silly, frankly. Nothing could be more self-evident to those with even a passing familiarity with the Golden Age of Sports. Few garments in the sports collectibles hobby could aspire to the same degree of importance as this shirt. In every collecting discipline of historical artifacts, pieces of this relevance are housed almost entirely in public museums. Certainly the Baseball Hall of Fame will cross its fingers that a philanthropic soul will offer this jersey on loan where, even at Cooperstown, it will stand as one of the premiere pieces in the collection.

And so, without further ado, we'll turn our attentions to the specifics of the jersey, noting first the fantastic condition that it exhibits to this day. One should not, however, take that claim to mean that the jersey is free of wear. The 1927 season was the second of thirteen that saw the Iron Horse go the full 154 games. Operating on the knowledge that each player during this era was issued just two home and two road jerseys, one can reasonably assume thirty-eight or thirty-nine games of action. It is also all but certain that either Game Three or Game Four of the World Series found Lou sporting these stripes, as it's unlikely he would have worn the same shirt on consecutive days. It also appears that the jersey may have lived a second life in the minors, as did most Major League jerseys from this era, and we assume that it was at this time that the anchoring strap in the tail (similar to the "fat strap" in Ruth's jerseys) was removed, taking with it a small piece of the left tail. This minor alteration represents the only variance between its current state and that of 1927 Bronx baseball action.

The interior collar finds the historic attribution, an elegantly scripted chain stitched "Gehrig H.L." that recalls the time when the strapping young first baseman was still occasionally called Henry Louis. A "Spalding" manufacturer's tag resides to the left. In the tail, and mellowed to the same salmon hue as the personal identifier, is a chain stitched number "46," the jersey's size designator.

While it is true that there is no year identifier present, nor should there be, photographic documentation assures the glorious 1927 vintage. As educated jersey collectors are well aware, the pinstripes of a Yankee home gamer create a unique "fingerprint." No two are the same. This "pinstriping method" has been used to date and authenticate several of the most significant Yankees jerseys in the hobby, from Gehrig's 1939 "Luckiest Man" shirt, to Maris' sixty-first home run gamer, to the 1933 Babe Ruth All-Star Game worn jersey we presented in our October 2006 Signature Auction. Note the pinstripe that extends directly through the button path, and the unique intersections of lines at the jersey's collar. If a picture tells a thousand words, two of those words are unquestionably "1927 Gehrig."

The jersey was on display at the new Yankee Stadium's museum for the entirety of the 2009 season, where it was able to share in yet another World Championship exactly seven decades after an ailing Gehrig celebrated his last. It is also prominently featured in Stephen Wong's acclaimed hardcover study of the hobby, Smithsonian Baseball: Inside the World's Finest Private Collections, commanding a full page (pg. 84) photograph and a smaller inset photo of the collar area (pg. 97). The latter just precedes a segment that discusses the "pinstriping method" which allows Yankees home jerseys, such as this one, to be definitively authenticated through vintage photography.

As a final thought, we'll point to Gehrig's slugging percentage in 1927 of .765, the highest production of his Hall of Fame career. In the entirety of baseball history, this figure has been matched or surpassed just six times-three each by Babe Ruth and Barry Bonds. Not Mickey Mantle, nor Ted Williams, nor Willie Mays, nor Hank Aaron ever registered a season with such a devastating offensive assault. And when we consider the larger historical context in which this groundbreaking achievement was realized-the most storied season in the history of the New York Yankees-we might begin to realize why many hobbyists consider this jersey to be among the finest baseball artifacts in private hands. LOA from Heritage Auctions.

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