Exceptional glossy 7 x 9 photo of Lou Gehrig with sportswriter Jeff Lyon at a 1938 spring training exhibition game at Duncan Park in Spartanburg, South Carolina, signed across his legs in fountain pen, “Best Wishes, Lou Gehrig.” Includes the original 5 x 7 negative from which the photo was developed. Matted and framed together to an overall size of 11.25 x 21.25, with a glass back so that the negative can be viewed; the image is sharp enough for the brand of Gehrig’s facsimile signature on the barrel of his bat to be perceived. In fine condition, with trivial chipping to edges. Accompanied by a full letter of authenticity from JSA, a full letter of authenticity from PSA/DNA, and a copy of a tribute to Gehrig written by Lyon and published in the September 7, 1995, issue of the New Jersey Herald, describing the encounters that resulted in this signed photograph. In part: "I met and chatted not once but twice with Lou Gehrig…That was no mean feat for an unknown young sportswriter from an unknown paper up in Binghamton…in the spring of 1938…it was decided…to cover spring training of the local Eastern League team. That's how this writer happened to be in Spartanburg, SC, when the Yankees stopped off for an exhibition game with their farmhands…I persuaded the photographer from the Spartanburg paper to pop a picture if I could get the famous star to hold still for it when I visited the dugouts to get my line-ups for the day…I finally asked the great man if he'd pose. He didn't seem to mind at all…and I did have my official scorer's book under my arm so he knew I was there on business. Later on in the summer, the Yankees came up to Binghamton for another exhibition with their farm team which led to my second brief chat with 'Larrupin' Lou.' I stuck the picture under his nose and politely asked if he'd mind autographing it. He graciously complied, said something like, 'Good picture,' and left the dugout for his turn in the batter's cage."
At the time this photograph was taken, Lyon was a columnist for the Binghamton Morning Sun and on an assignment to cover spring training for the Binghamton Triplets, who were readying themselves for the 1938 season in Spartanburg, South Carolina. As they had done the previous year, the New York Yankees stopped by to play an exhibition game against their minor league affiliate on April 13, and the local Spartanburg newspapers made it a point to note that Gehrig would be starting at first base. This was where Lyon first met Gehrig and had this photo taken. The Yankees defeated the Triplets by a score of 9 to 4, led by a great performance from Gehrig that included a double, triple, two walks, and three runs scored. Lyon would meet Gehrig again later on in the season when the Yankees traveled up to Binghamton for another game against the Triplets—as a nod to their fans upstate, the Yankees played an annual exhibition game each year at Johnson Field in Johnson City, New York. The 1938 game came on May 27, and they handily defeated their minor league club by a score of 10 to 2—coincidentally, the game was abandoned in the seventh inning when kids climbed the walls and swarmed the field seeking autographs, DiMaggio and Gehrig the main targets. Lyon, of course, had politely asked for Gehrig to sign this photo before the game began. This would ultimately become Gehrig's last full season, and a successful one at that—the 35-year-old 'Iron Man' increased his consecutive game streak to over 2600 and recorded a .295 batting average with 29 home runs. He was diagnosed with ALS after just eight games into the 1939 season, tragically ending the career of the iconic American athlete. He passed away just two years later in 1941, at just 37 years of age. Gehrig signed photos of this size and caliber are exceptionally scarce, with this example enhanced by its outstanding provenance and inclusion of the original negative.
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