Forget 1927. Let's talk about 1923—the birth of the Bronx Bombers. It was the year that christened the House That Ruth Built. It was the first of 27 World Series championships in franchise history. It was the season Babe nearly batted .400. And it was the major-league debut of a 19-year-old Ivy League star named Henry Louis Gehrig.
On April 18, 1923, while the Bambino was inaugurating Yankee Stadium with an Opening Day homer, Gehrig took the mound for Columbia University, striking out 17 opposing batters. His moon-shot home runs caught the eye of Yankee scouts who signed him to a contract on April 30th. Come June 15th, the young Iron Horse was pinch-hitting in Yankee pinstripes and wearing the immortal number 4—his place in the batting order after Ruth. He ultimately appeared in 13 games and may have played in his first Fall Classic were it not for Giants manager John McGraw, who barred the way based on an eligibility loophole...and who still met his Waterloo anyway.
This time frame explains why only 2 of the 20 or so existing Type I examples of 1923 Yankees team photos actually picture Gehrig. Lou missed both the beginning and end of the season, when team shots are traditionally taken. Here, mid-summer, he dominates the front row, his brawny physique a stark contrast to Miller "Mighty Mite" Huggins seated nearby. Babe looms in the top row at upper right. The 7x11 shot boasts terrific image clarity and contrast. In addition to typical peripheral handling/age wear, there is a light horizontal crease that passes through the torsos of the entire standing row, as well as some image discoloration in the upper-left and lower-right corners.
It bears mentioning that any of Gehrig's early, pre-Streak collectibles from 1923 or 1924 are exceedingly scarce. Indeed, if his 1925 Exhibit rookie card in mid-grade condition can sell for $100,000+, how long will it take before a far rarer 1923 Type I photo such as this catches up? Eat your heart out, 1927.
Encapsulated as Type I by PSA/DNA. Full LOA from PSA/DNA.