Carried by the Iron Horse during the 1931 Tour of Japan1931 Lou Gehrig United States Passport--Signed Three Times! Arguably the finest Gehrig signed document known to exist, this extraordinary relic was first introduced to the hobby in 2000 when consigned to auction by a descendant of close family friends of the legendary first baseman, and makes just its second appearance on the auction block in this Platinum Night event. Its tremendous significance in baseball history is matched by its spectacular state of preservation, virtually unchanged from its time in Gehrig's pocket as he crossed the Pacific with a cast of American All-Stars including Mickey Cochrane, Al Simmons, Rabbit Maranville and Lefty O'Doul.
The 1934 Tour of Japan is widely considered the most consequential of all foreign baseball excursions, but there's no denying that this earlier visit to the country was the factor that made the second possible, sowing the first seed from which such future greats as Sadaharu Oh and Ichiro Suzuki would be harvested. As such, any and all mementos of these Tours are properly coveted by the collecting community and draw stiff competition on the rare occasions they appear at auction. Certainly very few such pieces approach the significance of this offering, however.
The leatherbound passport opens to reveal an inside front cover featuring personal details scripted in Gehrig's flawless black fountain pen ink. The first and second of his three autographs appear here, each followed by the handwritten address of the New Rochelle home where the Yankee great lived and died. The former autograph appears in the rarest and most desirable format of all, a full "Henry Louis Gehrig." The second reads, "Mr. & Mrs. H. Gehrig," just below "Imperial Hotel- Tokio" as "Bearer's Foreign Address."
We turn the page to find the Gehrig's official data, listing his full name, date of passport issue, height, hair color, eye color, place and date of birth, and occupation of "Professional Ball Player." The third and final autograph appears on the next page, a marvelous sepia-toned portrait photograph (3x3") of the twenty-eight year old superstar again bearing the ideal "Henry Louis Gehrig" signature format. This signature, like the other two, are legitimately 10/10 in strength.
Just two border stamps appear within, marking Gehrig's October 13, 1931 arrival in the Land of the Rising Sun, and his December 18 return to the United States. As noted in text on interior back cover, American passports at this time were effective for two years, requiring a newer model for his return to Japan in 1934. That passport, however, has never surfaced, leaving this as the sole survivor.
As nothing more than a flawlessly executed Gehrig signed document, this is a relic worthy of placement in the finest of private collectors, but of course the significance travels well beyond that simple definition. For those with an interest in the global expansion of our National Pastime, this is a truly seminal artifact that forever changed the course of the history of the game. Full LOA from PSA/DNA, Mint 9. Full LOA from James Spence Authentication.
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2018 November 15-16 Fall Sports Card Catalog Auction