Known first as the Baltimore Orioles, then the New York Highlanders, the team now known as the New York Yankees have proven themselves over the last century (and a decade more) to be the most storied franchise in American baseball history. They hold an MLB record for both World Series wins, with twenty-seven, and for Hall of Fame inductees, with a whopping forty-six players. Figures such as Babe Ruth, Lou Gehrig, Derek Jeter, Yogi Berra, and Tony Lazzeri have become legendary household names. Memorabilia collectors have also taken note, with Yankee relics growing exponentially in value as the years press on. This iconic legacy has made the team’s collectibles some of the most sought-after and beloved pieces in the history of Major League Baseball.
In 1927, a time when the average player hit under ten home runs and a second baseman was lucky to hit any, Tony Lazzeri defied all the odds and slammed an astounding eighteen long balls. As the #3 home run leader of that year (#1 and #2 were Babe Ruth and Lou Gehrig, both fellow Yanks), Lazzeri hit more long balls that year than every other second baseman combined, a truly unprecedented feat. He was the defensive backbone of the Yankees’ first dynasty in the late-20s and early-30s, and his glove earned 525 assists in the same year as his historic home run number. A fielder’s glove that helped earn him a spot in the Hall of Fame is now up for auction in condition which is unimaginably pristine for a piece nearly a century in age.
1926-37 Tony Lazzeri Game Used Fielder’s Glove, PSA/DNA Authentic
With letter of provenance from Lazzeri’s son
Though the Yankees would fall to the Philadelphia Athletics in the 1931 American League pennant race, the team was the most offensively potent in the game’s history. The team’s two stars, Babe Ruth and Lou Gehrig, tied for the lead in home runs that year with forty-six each. The team as a whole knocked in 1,067 runs, setting the record for modern day baseball which has yet to be broken in the eighty-seven years since. Embodying every sense of the word, they were unstoppable. In an auction for the highest amount of Hall of Famers on a team ball ever offered by Heritage Auctions, Ruth, Gehrig, and eight other HOF teammates’ signatures can be found on this priceless piece’s surface. Each autograph is remarkably well-preserved for its time, and a stunning piece of history for any collector to own.
On the lists of “Best Players in MLB History” done by ESPN, CBS, and the MLB themselves, Ruth ranks #1 on them all. He led the league in home runs for ten of his seasons with the Yankees, and broke the then-MLB record with a whopping sixty long balls in a season. “The Babe” is also widely known as the only player who was a Hall of Fame-caliber hitter and pitcher, clocking in an impressive career ERA of 2.28. On July 23rd 1934 while playing the Chicago White Sox, nearing the end of his career, Ruth smashed home run number 702. He would only hit a dozen more in his legendary career. The same bat Ruth used to smack #702 is now up for auction signed by him, Gehrig, and multiple other Yankee greats. This is truly not only a historic piece of baseball history, but American history as well.
A more soft-spoken legend than Ruth, Lou Gehrig made a lasting mark off the field as well as on. As the first baseman of “Murderers’ Row,” Gehrig led the American League in home runs three times, runs four times and runs-batted in five times. In addition, he also played for the Yankees in an impressive 2,130 consecutive games, a record that stood for fifty-six years.
Teammate George Selkirk remarked, “Most of us thought he could have played forever.” This was not the case however, as his play began to decline with his diagnosis of a mysterious new disease known as ALS. He was soon forced to retire in June of 1939, and passed away from the illness two years later. Gehrig’s affliction shined a new light on the sickness, and paved the way for much of the research done on what is now commonly known as “Lou Gehrig’s Disease.” The bat used by Gehrig to smack the last two home runs of his extraordinary career is now up for auction in game used condition. The presence of “heavy” marks of use suggest that in addition to the last two dingers of Gehrig’s career, the bat may have also seen play in the 1938 World Series, making it truly a priceless baseball artifact.
Upon returning from combat service in World War II where he participated in the Normandy invasion, Yogi Berra found success as the New York Yankees colorful and incredibly talented catcher. In a career which included fifteen All-Star game appearances, Berra became popular for his quips or, as they came to be known, “Yogi-isms.” He’s responsible for famed phrases such as “It ain’t over ‘till it’s over” and “A nickel ain’t worth a dime anymore.” Berra wasn’t just all talk though, as his swing became feared across the league. Teammate Hector Lopez remarked that “He had the fastest bat I’d ever seen. The pitchers were scared of him because he’d hit anything.” Following his retirement, he enjoyed a career as a manager, serving on the Yankees then on the Mets, leading them to the World Series in 1973. A catcher’s mitt dating to the era of Berra’s record 148 consecutive errorless games is available for auction with a signature from the late Berra himself.
Late 1950’s Yogi Berra Game Used & Signed Catcher’s Mitt, PSA/DNA Authentic.
With letter of provenance from Yogi himself!
One of the Yankees’ more recent marvels, Derek Jeter, has quickly carved out a space for himself among the greats. He served as the team’s captain from 2003 to his retirement in 2014 and led them to five World Series wins, being named the World Series MVP in 2000. During his tenure he became the team’s career leader in hits, stolen bases and doubles, and his defensive skills made him a five-time Golden Glove winner. Unsurprisingly, Jeter soon found himself as a fan favorite with his exceptional leadership and off-field presence. But before his jersey number was retired, and before he won the American League Rookie of the Year in 1996, Derek Jeter was a scrappy 17-year-old being scouted at a high school baseball game. This glowing report, written in 1992, is now up for auction in one of the most priceless baseball document auctions since Babe Ruth’s sale contract. As a summation of his observations of the young Jeter, Yankee scout Dick Kroch predicts at the bottom of the piece “A Yankee! A five tool player. Will be a ML Star! +5!!”
1992 Derek Jeter New York Yankees Scouting Report
With letter of provenance from scout Dick Groch
No other team in American baseball history has a legacy quite like the Yankees. Over the course of their 114-year existence, the Yanks have been home to some of baseball’s greatest legends, the likes of which the world may never see again. From Ruth to Gehrig all the way to Jeter, their fantastical history makes memorabilia from the team a hot commodity, and some of the most sought-after pieces in the collecting world.
The Yankees auction on December 10, 2017 will include memorabilia from some of the greatest players in the league. Do not miss your chance to add this priceless memorabilia to your collection!