The most famous Lou Gehrig image of all time, the original photo used for two 1933 Goudy Lou Gehrig baseball cards, brought the top price in Heritage Auctions’ Vintage Sports Photography Catalog Auction on May 20, $60,000. The PSA/DNA Type 1 photo captured the “The Iron Horse” in 1927, the year the Yankees first baseman won the Most Valuable Player award and the Yankees won the World Series. Used for 1933 Goudey cards No. 92 and No. 160, the 7 x 9-inch photo of Gehrig was shot by baseball photographer Charles Conlon for Underwood & Underwood, an early producer and distributor of stereoscopic and other photographic images, and eventually a pioneer in the field of news bureau photography. The next highest priced lot documents one of the saddest events in baseball history, Lou Gehrig’s 1939 Farewell Speech. Forced to retire because of symptoms of ALS, which became known as “Lou Gehrig’s Disease,” he stood before a stadium full of emotional fans and delivered one of the most recognized speeches in the history of the game, opening with, “Fans, for the past two weeks, you have been reading about the bad break I got. Yet today, I consider myself the luckiest man on the face of this earth.”

The speech and the photo are timeless. Teammate Babe Ruth can be seen along the photo’s right edge, and a flag flies at half-mast in the background. The PSA/DNA Type 1 photo brought the second highest price in the auction, a lofty $43,200.

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1939 Ted Williams Original News Photograph, PSA/DNA Type 1, brought a very strong $19,200. From the rookie season of the man many consider the greatest pure hitter of all time, it is highlighted by the casual, off-center positioning of Williams’ Boston “B” cap and his cool, determined stare through squinting eyes. A similar frenzy was sparked by a 1955 Roberto Clemente Rookie Year Original News Photograph, PSA/DNA Type 1, also bringing $19,200. This image of Clemente taking a practice swing at Forbes Field appeared in the Chicago Tribune on May 13, 1955. A 1921 Babe Ruth Original Photograph by Paul Thompson, PSA/DNA Type 1, brought $10,200. Thompson wrote his own caption in pencil on the back of the photo, writing, in part that Ruth is “ambling across the home plate because the ball is in the bleachers.” The scene was not uncommon for Ruth, whose 2,174 runs scored are still the most ever by a New York Yankee, and tied with Hank Aaron for the fourth-highest total in baseball history. Other top items in the auction included: 

Heritage Auctions’ May 20 Vintage Sports Catalog Auction brought a total of $315,824 for 135 lots.