Lou Gehrig 1923-25 H&B Sidewritten Rookie-Era Professional Model Game Bat
Before he was the Iron Horse, Gehrig was known as Columbia Lou. He attended Columbia College from 1921 to 1923, playing both football and baseball. After his sophomore year, Gehrig signed with the Yankees for a $1500 bonus against the wishes of his beloved mother. In later years, Gehrig recalled why he had abandoned his intention to go on from Columbia to become an engineer: "There's no getting away from it," he told the New York Times in 1939, "a fellow has to eat. At the end of my sophomore year my father was taken ill and we had to have money. I had been playing on the college ball team and I had had eight offers to join professional clubs. So when there was no money coming in there was nothing for me to do but sign up." As first baseman for the New York Yankees for seventeen seasons, Gehrig played in 2,130 consecutive big league games (a record that would stand for more than fifty years), batted .361 in seven World Series, and broke many other major-league records. Known for his remarkable endurance, Gehrig was a four-time Most Valuable Player, earned a lifetime batting average of .340, and hit 493 home runs, including 23 grand slams, a record that still stands today. In 1939, stricken by a rare form of paralysis now widely known as Lou Gehrig's disease, he retired from the Yankees with the most graceful and moving speech ever uttered by an American athlete. He was elected to the Baseball Hall of Fame in a special election in 1939, and was the first baseball player ever to have his uniform number retired. This bat, one of the premier pieces in the esteemed Bill Nowlin Collection, dates from Gehrig's earliest seasons in the big leagues. Its 1923-25 labeling period coincides with the first chapter of a career that plays out like an epic novel. Manufactured by Hillerich & Bradsby, the 36 inch, 36.2 ounce war club shows evidence of outstanding use with a handle crack that has been repaired with one nail and some checking (grain separation) from repeated ball contact on the back barrel that has also been repaired with several nails. All of the manufacturers markings are quite pronounced, including Gehrig's facsimile signature on the barrel. Many ball marks are visible on the right, left and back barrel. Also visible on the bat are cleat marks on the handle and barrel and the remains of a shipping label. The handle had been taped with one tape ring, but the tape has been removed. Further enhancing the bats appeal is faint (illegible) side writing visible on the side of the barrel indicating that the bat was sent back to H&B for replication upon termination of use. Given the quality, appearance and era of this Lou Gehrig gamer, it would be a centerpiece in any baseball collection of any magnitude. LOA from John Taube of PSA/DNA (Graded GU6).
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