He may have become one of the patron saints of baseball but in reality, Lou Gehrig wasn’t all that different from the thousands who watched him play in the 1920’s and 30’s. After a hard day’s work he, too, enjoyed a cold brew and a smoke. There’s irrefutable proof of that in a news photograph from late in the Iron Horse’s remarkable career.
The RMY Auctions Photo of the Day is dated October 8, 1937 and shows a relaxed Gehrig celebrating victory over the New York Giants in the World Series. Sitting at his locker with cleats untied, he’s shown taking a sip from a bottle of owner Jacob Ruppert’s brand of beer while holding a lit cigarette in his other hand. Teammates are nearby.
Clubhouse photographs from this time period are quite rare, especially those showing players doing things that might not have gone over well with families who read the newspaper and considered Gehrig a hero.
He hit .351 with 37 home runs and 158 RBI that season, so it wasn’t surprising that Giants pitchers issued five walks to Gehrig during the ’37 Series, in which the Yankees beat their city rivals for the second straight season. It was his last great season before the onset of ALS which eventually forced him to retire in 1939 and claimed his life just two years later.
The 7×9 Acme photo still has the complete caption on the back and has been authenticated as a Type I image by PSA/DNA. RMY sold the only other known example four years ago. It’s one of hundreds of photos being offered in the Fall Premier Auction now underway at RMYAuctions.com.