The jersey Gehrig wore in photo used for Monument Park plaque!1937 Lou Gehrig Game Worn New York Yankees Jersey -- Photo Matched! For three-quarters of a century, recast in bronze, the Iron Horse has gazed out over the expanse of Yankee Stadiums both old and new, the first man honored in a shrine to pinstriped immortals called Monument Park. He wears an inscrutable, Mona Lisa smile, a melancholic expression that perfectly suits the tribute to a man who faced glory and tragedy with the same quiet stoicism. In its unfailing service through loud, hot summers and cold, lonely winters, Gehrig's Monument Park plaque is a particularly apt memorial to the durable legend, and one of the foremost treasures of baseball iconography.
The portrait photo upon which that inaugural Monument Park plaque is based is the work of official Yankees photographic service "Cosmo-Sileo Co.," an original example of which commanded $5,000 in our Summer 2015 Platinum Night auction. Our online listing will provide a side-by-side composite of that photograph and the offered jersey, establishing beyond question that this extraordinary pinstriped flannel is indeed the one that Gehrig dons in that famous image.
Like most Major League jerseys of the flannel era, this garment was repurposed for farm club use after its term of service to Gehrig, stripped of its logo "NY" over the heart but leaving the immortal number "4," the first digit ever retired by a Major League franchise, untouched and original. That Yankees logo has since been restored to a position about a half-inch toward Gehrig's left from the original placement, the distinctively shaped "NY" harvested from another 1937 Yankees jersey, according to our consignor.
It is likely that the sleeves were shortened during the jersey's farm club service--Gehrig wears them rolled in the Cosmo-Sileo shot. The experts at MEARS report that the left sleeve has been almost completely restored with fabric from another contemporary Yankees gamer.
Interior collar reveals the proper "Spalding" manufacturer's label and a chain-stitched "L. Gehrig," faded to a salmon shade from its original red. The same thread supplies a "37" at lower interior center tail. A scattered few rust-colored stains and a replaced button conclude MEARS' condition caveats, but our catalog photography should convey that the visual distraction of any of these concerns is minimal. At center rear of the jersey, about eight inches from the tail, we find the remnant of the anchor point for a (since removed) strap favored by both Gehrig and Ruth to keep the jersey tucked--often called a "fat strap," a term more fitting for the Babe than for Gehrig. The 1927 Gehrig jersey sold in our November 2010 auction likewise exhibits signs of that strap's removal. Heavy wear is evident throughout the garment, attributable both to Gehrig's approximately forty games of action in the Bronx (assuming two home and two road jerseys per season), and farm club use beyond.
The 1937 season would prove to be the last in which Gehrig would record Hall of Fame-caliber data, batting .351 with thirty-seven home runs and 158 runs batted in. His OPS (on base plus slugging) led the Junior Circuit at 1.116. The following season would see a precipitous drop in Gehrig's stat line for all metrics but games played, a mysterious swoon that would soon be explained by a tragic diagnosis.
Twenty-one months after Gehrig last wore this jersey as a member of the 1937 World Champion New York Yankees, he would stand before a packed house in the Bronx and tearfully proclaim himself "the luckiest man on the face of the Earth." Exactly two years after that, the Yankees would honor him with a memorial game. On that game's specially-produced ticket, there is an image of Gehrig gazing wistfully from beyond the grave, wearing this jersey. LOA from MEARS, A6.5. LOA from Heritage Auctions. LOA from Resolution Photomatching.
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