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    "The Luckiest Man" signs off on a storied career

    1939 Lou Gehrig Day Ticket Stub Signed by Gehrig, PSA Authentic. 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.

    Of the more than 60,000 tickets sold that date, only two have survived to find their way into a PSA slab. Presented is the only example that is autographed by the dying legend, an attribute that established the appropriately humble little stub for the "Tuesday, July 4, 1939" contest as the most significant baseball ticket in the collecting hobby. The emotional legend proves he was gracious to the very end with his 8/10 black fountain pen signature, applied to the reverse of a Mezzanine Box ticket stub.

    This is not just the sole signed ticket stub known from this saddest day in Yankees history, but the only Gehrig autograph that can be definitively dated to that July fourth farewell. As such, it is a relic as close to "priceless" as any to cross the auction block in recent memory. Encapsulated "Authentic" by PSA/DNA. Full LOA from James Spence Authentication. Modern print of speech photograph included.


    Fans, for the past two weeks you have been reading about a bad break I got. Yet today I consider myself the luckiest man on the face of the Earth. I have been in ballparks for seventeen years and have never received anything but kindness and encouragement from you fans.

    Look at these grand men. Which of you wouldn't consider it the highlight of his career to associate with them for even one day?

    Sure, I'm lucky. Who wouldn't consider it an honor to have known Jacob Ruppert - also the builder of baseball's greatest empire, Ed Barrow - to have spent the next nine years with that wonderful little fellow Miller Huggins - then to have spent the next nine years with that outstanding leader, that smart student of psychology - the best manager in baseball today, Joe McCarthy.

    Sure, I'm lucky. When the New York Giants, a team you would give your right arm to beat, and vice versa, sends you a gift, that's something. When everybody down to the groundskeepers and those boys in white coats remember you with trophies, that's something.

    When you have a wonderful mother-in-law who takes sides with you in squabbles against her own daughter, that's something. When you have a father and mother who work all their lives so that you can have an education and build your body, it's a blessing. When you have a wife who has been a tower of strength and shown more courage than you dreamed existed, that's the finest I know.

    So I close in saying that I might have had a tough break - but I have an awful lot to live for.

    Auction Info

    Auction Dates
    Jul-Aug, 2014
    31st-1st Thursday-Friday
    Bids + Registered Phone Bidders: 12
    Lot Tracking Activity: N/A
    Page Views: 6,658

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