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Surrounded by past and present teammates, cheered on by more than 60,000 loyal fans, Lou Gehrig stood at home plate in Yankee Stadium with his head solemnly bowed. Too overcome with emotion to speak, he humbly received an array of tribute gifts—a fishing rod from the stadium staff, a scroll from the visiting Senators, a tobacco stand from the New York sportswriters, and most significantly, a silver trophy bestowed by his tearful manager Joe McCarthy on behalf of the Yankees.
As the New York Times recounted, "The last-named present, about eighteen inches tall with a wooden base, supported by six silver bats with an eagle atop a silver ball, made Gehrig weep. President Barrow walked out to put his arms around Lou in an effort to steady him when this presentation was made. It appeared for an instant that Gehrig was near collapse."
Engraved on the trophy were the names of his fellow players, along with the now-famous poem by Times columnist John Kieran, who two years hence would stand beside Bill Dickey to carry Gehrig's casket as one of the honorary pallbearers.
Offered is one of the scant few existing trophy plaques that were produced for VIP recipients by manufacturer Dieges & Clust. The plaque features both the exact poem and list of names that appeared on the actual trophy itself—as seen clearly in the accompanying photo of McCarthy and Gehrig (PSA/DNA Type III). To our knowledge, only 4 other authentic examples have ever surfaced publicly. Measuring 4-7/8" x 10-1/2", the plaque displays an "American Sportsman" banner heading, with "1939" and "Col. Charles J. Dieges" anchoring the bottom border. Appearance quality is EX/MT with reverse-side adhesive mounting remnants and two tiny clips at the top corners. (One known survivor belonging to the grandson of Charles J. Dieges was likewise unmounted.)
The text—which is identical in font, format and style to that of the trophy itself—reads, in full: "To LOU GEHRIG / We’ve been to the wars together; / We took our foes as they came; / And always you were the leader, / And ever you played the game. / Idol of cheering millions, / Records are yours by sheaves; / Iron of frame they hailed you, / Decked you with laurel leaves. / But higher than that we hold you, / We who have known you best; / Knowing the way you came through / Every human test. / Let this be a silent token / Of lasting Friendship’s gleam, / And all that we’ve left unspoken; / Your Pals of the Yankee Team. / John Kieran.
"Joe McCarthy / Arthur Fletcher / Chas. ‘Red’ Ruffing / Monte ‘Hoot’ Pearson / Lefty Gomez / Tom Henrich / Bill Knickerbocker / Geo. Selkirk / Oral Hildebrand / Art Jorgens / Johnny Murphy / Joe DiMaggio / Atley Donald / Mark Roth / Doc Painter / E.G. Barrow / Earle Combs / Red Rolfe / Frankie Crosetti / Jake Powell / Bill Dickey / Joe Gordon / Buddy Rosar / Babe Dahlgren / Charlie Keller / Paul Schreiber / Steve Sundra / Bump Hadley / Rex Weyant / John Schulte."
After accepting his trophy, the "Luckiest Man" approached the microphone and delivered those immortal 13 words. Then, true to form, he deflected attention away from himself to shower praise on his colleagues: "Look at these grand men. Which of you wouldn't consider it the highlight of his career just to associate with them for even one day? Sure I'm lucky."