America’s homes continue to surrender baseball history. Some of it is better than others.
A 1937 Lou Gehrig game-worn jersey is now in the hands of a private collector after the family that had quietly owned it for decades decided to sell the road flannel donned by one of sports’ most iconic figures in the latter stages of his brilliant, but tragic career.
According to SCP Auctions, which brokered the private transaction, the jersey had been a gift from former Yankees general manager George Weiss and became a treasured heirloom. Recently, however, the family contacted the southern California-based company and expressed interest in selling it. The purchase price was not disclosed but SCP Auctions President David Kohler says it was among the most expensive items his firm has ever handled and garnered the most ever paid for a Gehrig jersey. In August of last year, Heritage Auctions sold a 1937 home Gehrig Yankee pinstripe flannel jersey for $870,000.
“This jersey from the last great season of Gehrig’s storied career is one of most remarkable discoveries the hobby has seen in recent years,” stated SCP Auctions’ Managing Director Dan Imler, who helped facilitate the transaction.
The family that sold the jersey and the buyer have each asked not to be identified for now.
Weiss worked for the Yankees from 1932-1960, first as the head of Yankees player development and then as the team’s general manager. The franchise won 15 World Series titles during his tenure. It’s believed the jersey was presented to a member of the family not long after the 1937 season.
Using a variety of techniques, the Spalding size 46 flannel jersey has been photomatched to two dated images from the 1937 season, including an August 11 shot of a beaming Gehrig crossing home plate after hitting what would be his last home run at Fenway Park. The second match is from an August 29, 1937 posed pre-game photograph that shows Gehrig, a young Joe DiMaggio, Hank Greenberg and other players. Gehrig also homered on that day.
The jersey is unaltered with the original lettering and Spalding tags and Gehrig’s name chain-stitched in the collar. Stains appear in several areas including the neck and shoulders.
Gehrig enjoyed his final great season in 1937, hitting .351 with 37 homers and 158 RBI.
“In addition to its exceptional provenance and superb original state of preservation, it is the most comprehensively photo-matched pre-war jersey I have ever seen,” Imler stated. “To be able to bring an item like this, previously unknown to the collecting public, out of hiding and into the light and reveal it’s glorious history is enormously gratifying.”