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    A monumental treasure from the saddest day in baseball history...

    1939 "Lou Gehrig Day" Presentational Plaque Issued to Gehrig Family. On April 18, 1923, the day that Babe Ruth clubbed a home run to mark the Grand Opening of the newly-constructed Yankee Stadium, lead Yankees scout Paul Krichell was watching a young pitcher named Lou Gehrig as he struck out seventeen Williams College batters to set a Columbia University record. Krichell had been following Gehrig for some time, mesmerized not by his pitching but rather the power of a left-handed swing unlike any he had seen other than that of Ruth himself. Within two months, Gehrig was signed to a Yankee contract, laboring most of the 1923 and 1924 seasons with the minor league Hartford affiliate, batting .344 with sixty-one home runs in 193 games.

    Though he would see very limited action in Major League pinstripes during this period, it was on June 1, 1925 that the burly German began a streak of consecutive games that remains the greatest legacy of his Hall of Fame career. Death, taxes and Lou Gehrig proved to be the three certainties of life through fourteen seasons of American League baseball. The period would see six World Championships, six All-Star appearances (not including an honorary seventh in 1939), two MVP Awards and the Triple Crown in 1934.

    So when cracks first appeared in Gehrig's impenetrable armor late in the 1938 season, nobody could have imagined just how serious the problem would prove to be. The superstar slugger hobbled through his final spring training visit to St. Petersburg, Florida and made a valiant attempt to soldier on through the first eight games of the 1939 season before advising manager Joe McCarthy to bench him "for the good of the team."

    Further medical tests would confirm everyone's worst fears, that recovery and a return to active duty was never to be, and so an Independence Day doubleheader in the Bronx was chosen for farewell ceremonies to honor the Yankee captain. Even under these most unusual of circumstances, and at the close of a peerless career, it was clear that Gehrig felt humbled by the attention, and uneasy in the spotlight as he delivered one of the most famous speeches in American history to a heartbroken sell-out crowd, declaring himself, "the luckiest man on the face of the Earth."

    Renowned jewelers Dieges & Clust created both a presentational trophy to be issued to the dying legend, and a small run of plaques bearing the same poem and list of teammate names that appeared on the trophy for teammates and VIP's. Two of those plaques appear in our Permanent Auction Archives.

    Have a look at them and you'll note a distinct difference that validates the remarkable provenance of this specimen. The run of presentational plaques were crafted from brass and lists the player names in printed text. This example is silver, with the player names appearing as facsimile signatures. In these ways, it perfectly matches the plates affixed to the base of Gehrig's trophy. We believe the trophy and this piece to represent the only two such examples that exist.

    Our consignor provides a signed letter of provenance attesting that his father purchased this piece from the lawyer for the estate of Eleanor Gehrig (Lou's widow) in the mid-1980's. A second letter, from an executive at Herff-Jones (which absorbed Dieges & Clust), confirms it matches their files for the Yankees. Dimensions are 10.5x4.75", not including top loop, condition NRMT.

    Auction Info

    Auction Dates
    August, 2019
    17th-18th Saturday-Sunday
    Internet/Mail Bids: 6
    Lot Tracking Activity: N/A
    Page Views: 2,131

    Buyer's Premium per Lot:
    20% of the successful bid (minimum $14) per lot.

    Sold on Aug 18, 2019 for: Sign-in or Join (free & quick)
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