An original Associated Press wire photo from Lou Gehrig Day at Yankee Stadium featuring Babe Ruth famously hugging his ALS-stricken teammate headlines a major vintage photograph auction now underway.
Henry Yee Auctions is offering the 7×9” black and white image among thousands of lots up for bid in his quarterly auctions on eBay.
The Type I photo includes the original paper caption, carrying the July 4, 1939 date. A July 6 file stamp is also on the back of the high-grade image, widely known among fans since it was snapped on that memorable day more than 75 years ago.
In all, there are 32 Ruth photographs in the auction, along with 22 featuring Gehrig. The photographs range from the early 20th century through part of the 1980s. There are 24 Mickey Mantle images, including those from his teenage years and 18 featuring Joe DiMaggio. Photos of Jackie Robinson, Roberto Clemente, Willie Mays, Hank Aaron, Sandy Koufax and dozens of other baseball Hall of Famers are in the auction along with their contemporaries in other sports.
Many of the images were once part of newspaper archives and were taken by wire service photographers or those hired to shoot for them.
Over 4,000 lots covering nearly every major subject over the course of the 20th century will be in the auction. All material is fresh to the market.
There is a Type III photo taken early in 1915 of the Boston Red Sox pitching staff including a young Ruth, a 1938 shot of a grimacing Gehrig taking a practice swing with a large caption that would serve as a preview story as Gehrig’s consecutive games played streak stretched toward 2,000.
Collectors will appreciate a September 3, 1929 photo of Ruth signing a large box of Louisville Slugger bats as part of a promotion as well as several pictures that were used to create baseball cards of the time including one of Duke Snider that became his 1949 Bowman card and another of Sid Luckman passing that was used by Leaf for its first football card set.
Honus Wagner smoking a cigar would seem to debunk any theory that he was anti-tobacco and that unique and rare photo from late in his life is in the auction as well.
There is a photo of Joe DiMaggio waiting impatiently in the on deck circle the night of July 17, 1941, when his 56-game hitting streak was stopped by Cleveland, a George Burke negative of Joltin’ Joe warming up during his rookie season and a classic portrait image of DiMaggio during that same 1936 campaign.
All photos carry a 99-cent opening bid.
Lots will begin closing Sunday night. You can see all of them here.