Yesterday was the 4th of July – a celebration for many reasons. If you are a Yankee fan, you know it as both George Steinbrenner’s birthday and the anniversary of the Lou Gehrig speech. This year is the 75th anniversary of that speech, and now a new piece of Gehrig memorabilia is going up for auction. A baseball glove he gave to a young boy 80 years ago will hit the block, as that young boy is now 96.
Howard Henderson’s father was a songwriter and Gehrig’s wife, Eleanor, was aspiring to do the same. As such, both Henderson and Gehrig would get bored when they met, and would go have a catch outside. Henderson’s glove was in rough shape and luckily he was also a lefty. Gehrig gave him his glove, with an inscription that read, “To Howard. I hope you have as much luck with this glove as I did. Lou Gehrig.”
When I was about 11 or 12 (’95 or ’96), I too had a glove signed. After a Yankee game I ran into the player’s parking lot against my father and a policeman’s wishes and right up to Paul O’Neill’s car. I asked him to sign my baseball, while he was already in the driver’s seat of his truck with the engine on. I completely sideswiped and confused him. Somehow, he was nice enough to smile and oblige me. He even smiled again and gave a little chuckle as he autographed my lefty first baseman’s mitt that was clearly too big for me. However, unlike Henderson, I continued to use my glove in little league games. I still have that glove, but his autograph is unreadable. If I knew then what I know now, I would have retired that glove that day. Luckily, I put the autographed baseball into a display case where it still sits today.
There are few moments in a child’s life that can compare to getting the autograph of your favorite player. Henderson was lucky enough to play catch with Lou Gehrig and receive Gehrig’s actual glove. It’s expected to fetch upwards of $300,000 in auction. It is not known whether Gehrig used the glove in a game, but it has been verified that is was his glove and his inscription.
Personally, if I made it to 96 and still had a glove like that it would end up in my will, not the auction block.