The bat Lou Gehrig used to hit his final two home runs will appear in a dedicated sale of New York Yankees memorabilia at Heritage Auctions.
The remarkable piece of baseball history is consigned from the collection of former Yankees ball boy Bing Russell (father of actor Kurt Russell).
Gehrig personally handed him the bat.
Lou Gehrig gave this bat to a Yankees ball boy in 1939
Bing's daughter Jill writes in a letter of provenance: “Although Lou Gehrig was always very kind to my Dad, and ruffled his hair whenever he walked by, Dad never dared speak to him or joke around with him like he did the other players, because he was in awe of Gehrig above all others..”
She explains that everyone on the team knew Gehrig was unwell, but no-one spoke about it openly.
But one day, during an April 1939 game against the Dodgers, Gehrig started to hit his old form.
“When he hit his second home run of the day, the team was ecstatic, they all wanted so desperately for him to do well.
“My Dad ran to the dugout steps in his excitement to watch Lou run the bases. He saw the bat boy pick up the bat where Gehrig had dropped it and show it to him when he crossed the plate.
“It was broken at the handle. Lou Gehrig handed the bat to my Dad when he got back to the dugout, ‘Here, Kid.’ Lou Gehrig never hit another home run.”
A couple of months later, Gehrig was diagnosed with ALS.
His retirement speech at Yankee Stadium drew a lengthy and tearful standing ovation from the assembled crowd.
This bat is valued at somewhere in excess of $800,000 ahead of the December 10 sale in Dallas.
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