“A mild form of infantile paralysis.”
That’s how Lou Gehrig’s condition was revealed to reporters who came to Yankee Stadium on June 21, 1939. In reality, the popular, once powerful first baseman had just received a death sentence.
In testimony to his character, Gehrig reported to the ballpark after returning from the Mayo Clinic in Minnesota that morning, put his uniform on and smiled for photographers on the field. One of those original images is being offered for the first time by RMY Auctions.
The 6 ½” x 8 ½” black and white photo is in near perfect condition despite its age. It contains a lengthy caption, still attached to the photo as originally distributed by International News. It was recently part of an acquisition of images that had sat untouched for decades in a large newspaper archive.
Even if the relayed information was overly optimistic and newspaper reports revealed general knowledge of ALS was limited at the time, there was no doubt that Gehrig’s playing career was suddenly over. He no longer possessed the strength to play at a major league level. “There is hope a place may be found for Gehrig in an executive capacity,” the caption reads. He would sign on to become New York’s parole commissioner but the Yankee captain would be dead in less than two years; a shocking blow to the franchise and baseball itself.
Over 1,000 lots are in RMY’s March Premier auction, which ends this Saturday.