Sunday, July 3, 2016

A Venerable Old Card Part 20

One of the most famous speeches in professional sports took place on this date in 1939 when Yankees first baseman Lou Gehrig addressed the crowd at Yankee Stadium announcing his retirement from baseball.  Gehrig 's sudden retirement came after struggles in different parts of the 1938 season and coordination problems in Spring Training lead him to visit the Mayo Clinic where he was diagnosed him with ALS.  At the time the retirement ceremony was not only huge because one of the game's stars was walking away from their career at the age of 36, but the Yankees also decided to retire Gehrig's number.

While there are many jerseys hanging in Major League Baseball stadiums nowadays, Gehrig was the first player to receive such an honor.  The Yankees gave their first baseman a trophy inscribed with a poem written by New York Times writer John Kieran that cost $5 and was Gehrig's favorite possession during his final years.  It is on display at the Baseball Hall of Fame, though not very big item, it's definitely worth finding if you visit.

And then there was the speech.  I actually had a student who was a big Yankees fan who wrote a research paper on Gehrig after watching a video produced by Major League Baseball featuring all of the different starting first basemen in the league, and Derek Jeter who was the Yankees team captain, reciting lines of the speech.  Here is the video....

Curiously, there is not an actual video of the whole Lou Gehrig speech in existence in its entirety.  A little weird that nobody got it on film, but it explains why Major League Baseball had the video above made with modern players reading the speech.  

As a card collector I cannot say that I am going to go out of my way to collect Gehrig cards since they are well out of my price range, but I have still found a few of the years that I really enjoy having in my collection.  Here are my two favorites.....

This card looks a lot like a 1972 Kellogg's card, but it's actually from the 1970 Rold Gold All-Time Baseball Greats Set.  The words "All-Time Baseball Greats" do not appear on the Kellogg's cards and the date on the back of the card is obviously different.  I like the Kellogg's set a lot and have picked up a lot of the cards over the last few years.  I was introduced to the Rold Gold set at a card show about a year and a half ago.  

There is something really cool about having a player from the 1930s pictured on a plastic card that came in a bag of pretzels in the early 1970s.  Clearly more modern than the baseball cards of the 1930s, but they have a great picture of Gehrig with the iconic facade of the Yankee Stadium grandstand in the background.  Just a really well made card.  

My second Gehrig card is even more modern, but very classy looking....

There are tons of these modern cards sets with old players and paintings.  Some are done very poorly, some are done very well.  The Masterpieces sets were easily some of the best baseball card products in the old players/paintings set that have become really common.  Easily a set I could take out of its box in my card closet, flip through, and just look at the commons.  


  1. I have a very similar picture to the Masterpiece card that I found framed at a dollar store for just a buck. I can reach out right now and touch it - I have it displayed on the wall beside me. Imagine that Masterpiece card in an 8x10 and framed. Same basic feel to it and I was super excited when I found it years ago for a single Washington.

    1. That's a great deal for a baseball picture and a cool picture to have up on the wall.

  2. Amazing cards of an amazing player with an amazing attitude. Easily my favorite Yankee of all-time.