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1939 First-Day Cover Signed by the 1939 New York Yankees with Lou Gehrig
Starting Bid - $1,000.00 , Sold For - $2,937.50
Despite the fact that Lou Gehrig was an obliging signer, items penned by the legendary "Iron Horse" in 1939, his final year with the Yankees, remain exceedingly scarce due to the progression of his debilitating illness. Offered here is one such rarity: a 1939 first-day cover signed in black fountain pen by Gehrig and fifteen members of the 1939 New York Yankees. Gehrig's signature (grading "9/10") appears on the reverse of the envelope along with those of Red Ruffing, Bill Dickey, Johnny Murphy, Red Rolfe, Bump Hadley, Buddy Rosar, Art Jorgens, Spud Chandler, Charlie Keller, Monte Pearson, Paul Schreiber (coach/scout), and one other (illegible, probably a coach or scout). The signatures of Lefty Gomez and Marius Russo have been scripted on the front. All of the signatures are uniformly strong, grading "9" or "10." The front of the envelope is addressed and postmarked "Jun 12 1939 - Cooperstown N.Y." Gehrig checked into the Mayo Clinic on June 13, 1939, and was diagnosed with amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, a fatal disease of the central nervous system, just one week later. That diagnosis effectively ended his playing career, but he remained with team for the remainder of the season. Gehrig's disease greatly affected his motor skills, and even signing his name became increasingly difficult for him as the summer progressed. It became necessary for a ghost signer to provide Gehrig's signature on team-signed items, and only very rarely did Gehrig ever personally sign. For that reason Gehrig signed items dating from the 1939 season are naturally extremely rare. This piece is one of the very few known 1939 New York Yankees team-signed items bearing an authentic Gehrig signature (almost all 1939 Yankees team balls and similar team-signed items feature a secretarial Gehrig signature), and was most likely obtained very shortly after his return from the Mayo Clinic. The envelope (6.5 x 3.5 inches) displays minor toning and a few light creases. Very Good to Excellent condition. The first-day cover has been handsomely matted and framed together with a 9 x 7-inch vintage team photo of the New York Yankees for optimal display. Total dimensions: 14.5 x 19.5 inches. LOA from James Spence/JSA. Reserve $1,000. Estimate $2,000/$3,000. SOLD FOR $2,937.50
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