Lou Gehrig was as confused as those who were watching the inexplicable, sudden demise of baseball’s greatest player. He’d felt tired midway through the 1938 season but hoped a few months of rest would lead to a better year in 1939.
It didn’t happen. In fact, things had gotten so bad that by the end of April, the Yankees’ stoic captain had made the decision to take himself out of the lineup, ending his streak of 2,130 consecutive games played.
It was obviously huge news and even though the Yankees were in Detroit in early May, photographers brought Gehrig and his replacement at first base, Babe Dahlgren, together for a photo. A surviving original image of that poignant moment is among the featured items in RMY Auctions’ January online catalog.
The auction is now underway and will continue through January 21. Nearly 500 historic sports, news and entertainment-oriented photos are included.
The photo of Gehrig and Dahlgren measures 6 ½” x 8 ½” and was distributed to newspapers across the country. It includes the original International News Service paper caption, still attached.
While he eventually bounced around the big leagues until retiring in 1946, Dahlgren played fairly well for the Yankees in ’39, despite the sizeable shadow cast by Gehrig. He homered and doubled in a 22-2 Yankee win during his first game and drove in 89 runs on the season for the Yankees. Gehrig, of course, never played again and would die from ALS in 1941.