1920 Commerce High School Painted Game Football & Yearbook - Earliest known Lou Gehrig Game Used Memorabilia
The earliest piece of game used memorabilia tied to the Iron Horse himself, Henry Louis Gehrig. The Hollywood caliber story of Lou Gehrig is legend, but what many are not aware of was that in football he sought the same excellence he did in the game of baseball. And this pigskin treasure is the perfect representation of same. Rescued from the horrors of progress, this was saved by the physical education teacher at Louis D. Brandeis High School on the Upper West Side of Manhattan, where Larrupin’ Lou was brought up. Sitting on the same ground where Commerce High School once stood, the building was razed in the early 1980's for new construction. The original owner, whose letter of authenticity is included with this lot, rescued the football in the soon to be destroyed building. This one of a kind trophy football is painted with the magical words, "1920…Commerce 21…Evander 3." This tells the story that day of a dominant Commerce team essentially blowing out chief rival Evander, not named for the later heavyweight champion. The ball of victory shows signs of aging but retains its original shape, though the interior bladder has degraded. But every picture tells the story and as the photos show, it retains that fine look that we as collectors desire. There is no doubt that Lou Gehrig, as the starting fullback for Commerce, carried this ball multiple times. In those days a NYC high school of meager means would have used one ball or two in an unlikely disaster. There is no doubt that Lou Gehrig would have battled the line multiple times in a blaze of glory in this proud win. Most important, the lot comes with something else almost as, if not equally, valuable, his high school yearbook from that very same year. As serious collectors of yearbooks understand, high school yearbooks are extremely rare and so much more so than their college counterparts. The class sizes were tiny in comparison. Best of all, the yearbook shows a handsome seventeen-year old Gehrig in one of his earliest known photographs. He is also pictured as a member of the school's baseball team, of course, where he found his true calling. Book shows wear, but all interior pages remain well. It cannot be underscored enough how rare and valuable the book is in addition to the historically important nature of this football that was at one time touched by an angel. Goosebumps.