SCP Auctions, the company that sold a Babe Ruth game worn 1920 New York Yankees jersey in 2012 for an industry record $4.4 million, recently discovered another historic Yankee flannel.
A 1937 Lou Gehrig game worn road jersey, previously unknown to the collecting community, was found in the estate of a family whose ancestor received the jersey as a gift from former Yankees General Manager George Weiss. Having owned the heirloom for decades the family enlisted the services of SCP Auctions to authenticate and sell the jersey. The Yankees road flannel was donned by one of sports’ most iconic figures in the latter stages of his brilliant, but tragic career.
According to a press release from Resolution Photomatching, which photo matched the jersey, "conclusive photomatches were made based on the alignment of the buttons with the custom stitched "Y" on the front of the jersey, and the alignment of the seam with the custom stitched "Y" on the front of the jersey. In our comparison analysis images were viewed of other Yankees players from the 1937 season, and a total of nine other road jerseys were identified in the images (eight worn by other Yankees players and one different jersey worn by Gehrig). All of these jerseys showed a unique alignment of the buttons with the custom stitched "Y" on the front of the jersey, both as compared to the Gehrig jersey pictured above and as compared to each of the other eight comparison jerseys. Images were also viewed of Gehrig wearing road jerseys from surrounding seasons. All of the jerseys worn by Gehrig in images from surrounding seasons also showed a unique alignment of the buttons with the custom stitched "Y" on the front of the jersey, both as compared to the Gehrig jersey pictured above and as compared to each other. Based on this comparison analysis, we determined the alignment of the buttons with the custom stitched "Y" to be completely unique to each jersey, and therefore conclusive photomatch characteristic."
In addition to verifying that the jersey is completely original and unaltered, the company was able to photo match the jersey to two different games in which Gehrig homered. The two dated images from the 1937 season include an Aug. 11 shot of a beaming Gehrig crossing home plate after hitting what would be his last home run at Fenway Park. The second match is from an Aug. 29, 1937 posed pre-game photograph that shows Gehrig, a young Joe DiMaggio, Hank Greenberg and other players. Gehrig also homered on that day.
SCP Auctions President David Kohler said the jersey was sold privately to a prominent collector who understood the importance of it being “fresh” to the market and also the multiple home run games it was photo matched to in August 1937. The purchase price was not disclosed but Kohler said it was among the most expensive items his firm has ever handled and garnered the most ever paid for a Gehrig jersey.
“This jersey from the last great season of Gehrig’s storied career is one of the most remarkable discoveries the hobby has seen in recent years,” said SCP Auctions’ Managing Director Dan Imler, who helped facilitate the transaction.
He added, “In addition to its exceptional provenance and superb original state of preservation, it is the most comprehensively photo-matched pre-war jersey I have ever seen."
Gehrig enjoyed his final great season in 1937, hitting .351 with 37 homers and 158 RBI. Just two years later he abruptly retired from baseball after being diagnosed with ALS. Gehrig passed away from the disease in 1941.
Both the seller and the buyer have each asked not to be identified.