As the first week of May 1939 came to a close, baseball’s biggest mystery was what had happened to Lou Gehrig. The once robust 36-year-old Yankee first baseman had seemingly lost most of his big league ability and shockingly pulled himself from the lineup before a game in Detroit just a few days earlier. The end of Gehrig’s 2,130-game streak made headlines but what was the matter?
Sadly, it wouldn’t be long before everyone would know it wasn’t simply a slump. Gehrig would never return to first base and would be dead by 1941. Frustrated, but ever the consummate professional, Gehrig took time out to pose for a photo at one point, shaking hands with his replacement.
The image of the 36-year-old Gehrig and his 27-year-old successor, Babe Dahlgren, is the RMY Auctions Photo of the Day. The 6×8” International News photo still retains the original paper caption on the back. The photo was transmitted to newspapers across the country who were anxious for news on the sudden turn of events in the American League.
RMY says the image taken in Detroit on May 3, 1939 “ranks among the most important moments in the history of the game.” It also carries Type 1 authentication from PSA/DNA. It’s one of over 1,000 photos up for auction through this Saturday.
Despite what had to be enormous pressure, Dahlgren’s debut went well. He homered and doubled in a Yankees win. He’d grown up as a Yankees fan.
“I especially admired Gehrig because he was a first baseman like me. I never dreamed one day I’d be in New York to take the man’s place.”