1939 Lou Gehrig and Joe DiMaggio Photo

Sold For: $529

Auction Year: 2010 spring

Lot: 1451

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Poignant and historically significant original press photo, culled from The Chicago Sun Times archives, capturing Lou Gehrig and Joe DiMaggio during their final season together in 1939. This is a haunting photo recording the Yankees' tragic "changing of the guard" that took place during the 1939 season. The photo is best described by the period newspaper caption affixed to the reverse:

A camera study of the two great men of the New York Yankees; (left) young Joe DiMaggio, who though he is already the best outfielder in his league, seems certain to rival Ty Cobb within the next few seasons for the honor of being the No. 1 outfielder of all time; (right) old Lou Gehrig, fading "iron man" of the national game and once fabulous hitter who is now paying his second visit to Comiskey Park as a noncombatant, one who sits on the bench of afternoons and considers a trip to the Mayo Clinic instead of to the plate.

The date stamp "Jun - 8 1939" appears on the caption. A second date stamp ("Dec 28, 1941") and editorial notations also appear on the reverse. As implied in this caption, no one really understood what was wrong with Gehrig in 1939, but they would in less than two weeks' time. Gehrig entered the Mayo Clinic on May 13th, just five days after this photo was taken. At the end of his week-long examination, doctors diagnosed his condition as amyotrophic latera sclerosis, a terminal disease of the central nervous system for which there was, and still is, no cure. Based upon the date of this photo, it may very well represent one of the last images of Gehrig ever taken in a Yankees uniform. The photo (10 x 8.75 inches) has a few very minor flaws common to nearly all working press photos, including edge tears (primarily along the top border; one of which touches upon Gehrig's image) and light editorial outlining. In Very Good condition. Reserve $200. Estimate $400+.


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