On May 1, 1939 Yankee first baseman Lou Gehrig sat out a game for the first time since 1925, thus ending his streak of playing in 2,130 consecutive games. Doctors soon discovered that the "Iron Horse" was the victim of a rare and incurable illness, amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, now called Lou Gehrig's disease. A special Lou Gehrig Appreciation Day was held at Yankee Stadium less than two months later on July 4 with many of Lou's old teammates being invited.
Gehrig and his slugging mate Babe Ruth had been close friends for many years but since 1934 they had gone their separate ways. The events surrounding the rupture of their friendship involved a comment Gehrig's mother made in reference to Ruth's daughter, which, when repeated to his wife Clair and thus relayed to the Babe, was construed as a slight. Ruth confronted Gehrig and reportedly spoke harshly about Gehrig's beloved mother. The exchange led to rift that would be sustained for five long years with the two Yankee sluggers barely speaking to or even acknowledging one another.
The rift came to an end on Independence Day in 1939 at Yankee Stadium. In front of 70,000 emotional fans, teammates and friends including Ruth, an ailing Lou Gehrig delivered one of the most famous speeches ever uttered by an American athlete. In the course of his deeply moving address, Gehrig, in his unerring humility, thanked his teammates graciously for their support, saying to the crowd, "Look at these grand men. Which of you wouldn't consider it the highlight of his career just to associate with them for even one day?"
Babe Ruth tearfully embraced his dying teammate and would later say "I put my arms around him and though I tried to smile and cheer him up, I wound up crying like a baby." Gerhig's health deteriorated and he died two years later.
This extraordinary 8" by 10" clear photograph is among only a handful of such images, dual signed by the two Yankee icons, known to exist. It has resided within the family of our consignor for generations. According to our consignor, the photo was originally obtained by her uncle Billy Jones who was half of the well-know radio duo "The Happiness Boys". Jones and his partner Ernie Hare were immensely popular New York based performers over a nineteen year period and were fixtures among New York's high society throughout the 1930's. Detailed provenance documentation accompanies the photograph including a notarized letter from our consignor. The condition of the photograph itself is excellent. Gehrig's signature "Sincerely Lou Gehrig" rates 8/10, while Ruth's "Sincerely Babe Ruth" inscription rates 9/10 in boldness with a very slight smudge. There is a small ink spot on the left margin and a tiny remnant of a fingerprint (possibly Ruth's) on the Babe's face. Additional LOA from JSA.
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