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1934 Lou Gehrig Tour of Japan Game Worn Uniform....

2011 August Chicago Signature Vintage Sports Collectibles Platinum Auction #7037

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Auction Ended On: Aug 4, 2011
Item Activity: 11 Internet/mail/phone bidders
17,386 page views
Location: Muvico
9701 W. Bryn Mawr Avenue
Rosemont, IL 60018

1934 Lou Gehrig Tour of Japan Game Worn Uniform. Representing the highlight of what is unquestionably the most significant hobby find of this young decade, the presented uniform ends a widely debated mystery and brings this Platinum Night auction squarely into the crosshairs of the hobby's most serious and advanced uniform collectors. Only a tiny handful of uniforms from the game's most noteworthy foreign excursion have been unearthed in the seventy-five years since Ruth, Gehrig, Foxx and about a dozen other American Tourists steamed back to our shores, the Babe's commanding more than three quarters of a million dollars in a 2005 auction. But even before Ruth's personal model established its mark as the highest price ever paid at auction for an exhibition baseball uniform, hobbyists wondered where, and if, Lou Gehrig's might be found.

It was not Moe Berg-inspired intelligence gathering that led Heritage to this buried treasure, but rather a simple telephone call from the son of a serious ex-girlfriend of the legendary Yankees first baseman who had almost become Mrs. Gehrig before Eleanor took the job. Despite their fractured romance, this ex remained close with Lou and the Gehrig family, a bond that survived past her former love's tragic 1941 death and until Lou's mother herself passed away in the 1950's. This special friendship is documented in Christina Gehrig's will, which provides for a college fund for our consignor and stipulates that a portion of her famous son's belongings be left to her.

For over half a century this uniform, and the five other "The Lou Gehrig Collection" lots likewise listed within this Platinum Night auction, resided in the familial home of Gehrig's ex, its residents largely unaware of the historic and monetary value stored in the attic. Though the Iron Horse had twice barnstormed the United States with the Babe in the late 1920's, and participated in the original 1931 Japanese Tour, there is little question but that the 1934 Baseball Tour of Japan was his most important exhibition. The same could be said of the 1934 Tour's relevance to baseball history at large, as Major League Baseball continues to reap Asian talent from the seeds sown those many decades ago. While Gehrig's noble and unflinching service to the New York Yankees will always make us think of him first in pinstripes, the grey flannel of the presented uniform could effectively be argued to have even greater relevance as a representation of history's most consequential road team.

Like the owner of baseball's second-longest consecutive games streak himself, the uniform is an absolute miracle of survival, effectively unchanged since its Depression-era service short of the slightest hint of toning to its paler identifiers. Not a moth hole or distracting stain is to be found, and the patriotic red, white and blue piping that adorns the sleeves and button path exhibits none of the typical fraying. The chenille "All Americans" circular patch remains firmly affixed over Lou's indomitable heart, with smaller patches balancing the design at each sleeve. The red and blue felt number "4," which would soon become the first retired from Bronx service at Gehrig's heartbreaking farewell, commands the verso. Artfully chain stitched at interior collar is a scripted "Gehrig," the proper period "Spalding" label to its left.

The matching pants continue the theme, with not a thread or button out of place. The rear interior waistband mirrors the interior collar of the jersey, with an embroidered "Gehrig" and "Spalding" manufacturer's label applied. Please note that the matching cap is presented as its own lot immediately following the uniform. A photocopy of Christina Gehrig's will, with redacted names, will be included in the lot. Graded MEARS A10. LOA from MEARS, A10. LOA from Heritage Auctions.

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