Spring Premium Live and Catalog Auction 2018
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Absentee portion of this auction is open for bidding.
The live portion of this session will begin Saturday, April 28, 2018 at 7:00 PM EDT.

July 4, 1939 stands as the most somber, yet inspiring day, in the history of American sports. 61,808 fans packed New York’s Yankee Stadium to pay tribute to the team’s gallant hero, Lou Gehrig, who had recently retired after learning he had the fatal disease that would soon take his life and bear his name. After receiving many gifts from his admirers, the normally shy Gehrig reluctantly approached a bank of microphones and delivered the most memorable and inspiring speech in all of sports. Beginning with “Fans, for the past two weeks, you've been reading about a bad break. Today I consider myself the luckiest man on the face of the earth,” and ending with "So I close in saying that I might have been given a bad break, but I've got an awful lot to live for. - Thank you," Gehrig’s speech elicited a two-minute standing ovation, and as he wiped away tears with a handkerchief, Babe Ruth broke from the line of friends behind him and embraced his dying friend. A band struck up “I Love You Truly” and the 61,000 in the stands began chanting, “We love you Lou.” 

Though it was expected, his death less than two years later stunned the baseball world. Overcome by the loss of the team’s silent leader, Yankees president Ed Barrow permanently retired Lou’s number “4,” saying it would never again be worn by a Yankee. To memorialize this unprecedented decree, the Yankees framed a swatch of Yankees pinstripe bearing Lou’s number “4” with “Lou Gehrig Number Retired July 4, 1939” stitched in Yankees navy blue and had it framed and mounted on the wall of the clubhouse. Gehrig’s retired number was eventually joined by those of Babe Ruth, Joe DiMaggio, Mickey Mantle, Casey Stengel and Bill Dickey. A 1969 photograph by Louis Requena shows the Ruth, Gehrig, DiMaggio and Mantle framed jerseys with their bronze plaques hanging on the wall of the Stadium Club. In addition, a July 20, 1972 article in the New York Times mentions that the group, including the Gehrig, was displayed on the walls of the Stadium Club.

After Yankee Stadium was renovated in 1975-76, the framed retired numbers were taken down and sold by one of the construction contractors. In 1990, former Yankees Clubhouse manager Nick Priore authenticated the Gehrig along with a Ruth and DiMaggio retired number display as the ones that were originally hung in the Stadium before the commencement of the renovation. Mr. Priore’s signed letter is included with this lot along with photocopies of the 1969 Requena photo and other supporting documentation. The framed Gehrig retired number has been professionally matted and framed in the original style and measures 21 ½ x 22 inches. The display shows medium wear from display and on the top edge of the jersey you can just see the difference in toning from being displayed for year in the Stadium Club. The companion bronze plaque bearing the name “LOU GEHRIG” engraved in gilt measures 5 ½ 14 ¼ inches and like the framed jersey displays medium wear from display. The framed jersey and plaque come with a signed LOA from the New York Yankees.

Lou Gehrigs Retired "Number 4"  That Hung in Yankee Stadium - The First Number Retired in Professional Baseball (Yankees LOA)
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