The passing of Lou Gehrig was a national tragedy, his illness was devastating news to a nation that was growing up at the same time as our National Pastime. Recovering from a Great Depression and embracing the entertainment provided by the game, fans embraced its superstars as national heroes. The “Iron Horse” was synonymous with dependability, his impossible streak of 2,130 consecutive games played a symbol of hard work, dedication, and the “stick-to-it-iveness” that became a core American value. Early in the 1939 season, that ironclad ideal took a serious blow when Gehrig removed himself from the starting lineup, and Gehrig’s struggle with the disease that would eventually bear his name was well-documented. Even today, Gehrig remains one of the most recognized names in American sports, and his streak and subsequent struggle with what is commonly thought of as ALS is well-known among contemporary sports fans.
Gehrig passed on June 2 of 1941, at the young age of 37. The following month, on July 4 (the second anniversary of Gehrig’s famed “Luckiest Man” speech), the Yankees planned to dedicate a monument to be placed in the Yankee Stadium centerfield, honoring Gehrig, to be placed adjacent to the monument honoring Miller Huggins. The schedule for that date included a doubleheader between the Yankees and the Philadelphia Athletics, and between games, the new monument would be dedicated. The weather, famously, did not cooperate, and the doubleheader – as well as the dedication ceremony – were forced to be rescheduled for July 6.
Perhaps due to the fact that the game was rescheduled and tickets needed to accompany fans to the stadium twice, a ticket that would even in 1941 have been considered a collectors item is scarce and difficult to find in high grade. Even stubs from the game are difficult to find and typically command hundreds of dollars. Full tickets, however, are in a different stratosphere – as of this writing, PSA has graded just eight examples without the Void Stamp with only one – this example – graded with a higher numerical grade than EX 5 (a second example has been graded NM 7 with a qualifier that reduces the value of the grade by two points). The most recent sale
Graded NM-MT 8 by PSA, this example is absolutely stunning; a full ticket that is virtually perfect in every way. Featuring blue edges (the tickets can be found with different colored edges, depending on the section of the Stadium) and a beautiful, clean bust of the Yankee captain, the words “Lou Gehrig Memorial” are emblazoned across the ticket, signifiying the special event. Slight touches to the corners, resulting in the tiniest chipping of the blue color in one area, are the only visible wear on this ticket. One can only speculate as to how such a specimen could have survived not only the original date but the rescheduled game in such perfect condition.
This is an extraordinarily desirable ticket, among the most valuable of all tickets from the era. The next highest-graded example, a PSA EX 5, sold for $17,000 at auction in 2011, with lower-graded examples fetching prices that support that price level. This example, clearly the most attractive graded example in existence (SGC has not graded any full tickets from the event), should be the most valuable, the single, shining example of the date Yankee Stadium’s fabled Monument Park was born.