Breaking News

By Peter J. Nash

Sept 28, 2010

The alleged Joe Jackson glove before it was removed from exhibit.

As a result of’s  report last month, which found that the Baseball Hall of Fame’s alleged 1919 “Shoeless Joe” Jackson jersey was a forgery, officials at the Cooperstown Museum have removed another artifact that was originally purchased with Major League Baseball funds along with the tainted 1919 ”Black Sox” jersey.

MLB funded the purchase of the jersey and glove in 1998 from New Jersey collector Barry Halper as part of an $8million deal, which included 175 choice items from the collection of the then limited partner of the New York Yankees.

The report found that the alleged 1919 Jackson White Sox jersey was manufactured by the wrong maker and didn’t even match the style of uniform actually worn by the White Sox teams of that season or era. 

 In addition, the report exposed conflicting public statements made by Halper as to his acquisition of the jersey and several other Jackson items, including the glove displayed at the Hall of Fame.  In The Sporting News of February, 1985, Halper stated he’d purchased the materials “recently” in a cash transaction through the mail from Jackson’s relatives.  However, by the time of the MLB purchase in 1998, Halper had changed his story, stating that he’d acquired his Jackson items directly from Jackson’s widow on a visit to her home in the 1950’s.

When MLB purchased the Halper Collection items in 1998, they subsequently donated the group of artifacts to the Baseball Hall of Fame.  Upon their donation, press releases and National news coverage featured these Jackson items as some of Halper’s best:

-Jackson’s 1919 White Sox road jersey

-Jackson’s Glove

-A gold pocket watch presented to Jackson in 1919

-Jackson’s famous “Black Betsy” Bat

The Hall of Fame exhibit case that once housed Barry Halper's alleged Joe Jackson Jersey and glove looks sparce after HOF officials removed the suspect glove as a result of a report.

 Shortly after our report was published, the Hall of Fame was contacted to answer questions regarding the provenance of the Jackson glove that was still on display. The Hall of Fame’s Senior Director of Communications, Brad Horn, said he “was checking into it,” however, this past week he did not return calls or emails with our follow-up inquiries.

The Hall of Fame is also dealing with a growing scandal related to the sale of stolen photographs and documents from the National Baseball Library.  Our report last week presented evidence of the sale of Hall of Fame property in major auctions around the country.  One item reported to our “Tips” line was a c.1905 cabinet photo of Hall of Famer Christy Mathewson that sold for over $12,000 at public auction in 2008.

Interviews with former Hall of Fame employees, who requested anonymity, revealed that a 1988 FBI investigation into major thefts from the institution was dropped because the Hall of Fame feared a public backlash from both past and potential donors.

Amidst the revelations of the donation and exhibition of fraudulant artifacts; the massive thefts of research materials from the National Baseball Library; the apparent efforts to cover-up the investigation of those thefts; and the apparent inaction of the institution to recover items stolen from their collections; a source in New York State goverment suggested that the office of the  New York State Attorney General  would have grounds to launch their own investigation into the conduct of HOF officials and the apparent mismanagement of the non-profit museum’s collections.

The Baseball Hall of Fame’s website states the Museum is an “independent, non-profit educational institution” dedicated to, “collecting, preserving, exhibiting and interpreting its collections for a global audience.”  In their 2010 Induction program, the Hall of Fame’s  Chairman, Jane Forbes Clark, expressed how, “artifacts have been donated by players and fans alike-people who want to preserve the history of our National Pastime.  In return for their donation, we promise to care for and protect these items forever, so generations years from now can enjoy and understand the timeless meaning of the game.”

The National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum is an accredited member of the American Association of Museums, which has implemented for its members its own “Code of Ethics for Museums.”  Non-profit museums, like the Hall of Fame, hold artifacts and objects in a public trust and under the AAM’s code of ethics are expected to ensure that the “collections in their custody are accounted for and documented.”  In stark contrast to AAM guidelines are the recent revelations in our reports that show how fraudulant Joe Jackson artifacts have been exhibited to Hall of Fame visitors for over a decade.  In addition, we have also illustrated how many rare artifacts have disappeared from the museum’s collections, only to surface recently for public sale.  No doubt, the leadership at the Baseball Hall of Fame has a lot of explaining to do.

A group of items stolen from the HOF collection in the last 25 years: (Clockwise from top left) 1916 Hughie Jennings Letter; Jake Beckley cabinet photo;1897 Boston BBC at Baltimore cabinet photo; c.1902 Articles of Incorporation, Cincinnati BBC; Mickey Welch cabinet card; 1908 Joe Tinker signed affidavit; 1911 John McGraw letter; Roger Connor cabinet card; 1902 John T. Brush Promisory Note.

By Peter J. Nash

Sept. 23, 2010

This Falk Studios photo of HOFer Christy Mathewson was stolen

The jig is up! Collectors around the country have been reading the recent reports on and they are identifying and reporting to our “Tips” line, both public and private sightings of baseball treasures that have been stolen from the National Baseball Library in Cooperstown, New York. While it seems like the Baseball Hall of Fame would much rather sweep the evidence of a growing scandal under a very large rug, new evidence of the thefts is surfacing at a most alarming rate. It’s a national disgrace, and is the only media outlet covering the disturbing story of the massive thefts from baseball’s national shrine.

Crooked collectors, auctioneers, authenticators and dealers have profited from the black market trade of the Hall of Fame’s treasures, while purchasers of the contraband material are finding themselves holding some very expensive bags. These unfortunate collectors are learning what to look for on items that have been wrongfully removed from the Cooperstown museum. The scope of the scandal appears to be growing rapidly and past donors of materials to the museum, which relies solely on donations to enrich its collections, are wondering how this all could have happened?

Clay Marston, of CanadianBaseball, has donated items to both the National Baseball Hall of Fame in Cooperstown and the Hockey Hall of Fame and Museum in Toronto.  Following the reports on, Marston learned of the large scale thefts from Cooperstown and, as a donor who made the choice to entrust the Hall of Fame with his own donations, Marston is dismayed.  Responding to one of our articles Marston wrote, “The revelations are most chilling and extremely disheartening for those of us who have actually donated a number of one-of-a-kind items to the National Baseball Hall of Fame.” 

Michael T. Mauro, of Hamden, CT, donated a score card from Babe Ruth’s first game as a Boston Brave, and like other donors expressed disbelief when he heard of the thefts from the museum.  Said Mauro, “I love the Hall of Fame, its one of my favorite places.  I wanted to donate something so I could contribute to this great institution.  What a shame that someone could walk off with these pieces of history. I just hope they get everything back.”  

Rare, one of-a-kind photographs and historic documents detailing the day to day business of baseball at the turn of the century have vanished from the Hall of Fame’s collection, but thanks to the vigilant eyes of our readers, many of these gems will hopefully make the pilgrimage back to Cooperstown, like fans do every year.

Here are some of the startling new discoveries submitted to’s “Tips” line:

This is the reverse of the rare Falk cabinet photo of Christy Mathewson, which shows the letters “PD” written in red marker, a designation written by Hall of Fame employees on photos to show that the image rights are “public domain.”   This past May, when New Jersey Auction house Robert Edward Auctions attempted to sell a rare cabinet card of Hall of Fame pitcher Mickey Welch marked “PD” (but altered to appear as “BOB” instead), the FBI stepped in and stopped the sale.  Collectors learned that the “PD” mark was something that they should avoid at all costs.  Honest collectors have also decided to report sightings of other stolen items like the cabinet photo of Hall of Fame legend Christy Mathewson.

The back of this Mathewson photo reveals the Hall of Fame's "PD" designation for "Public Domain." In addition, the museum's accession numbers have been either covered or removed. This card sold for over $12,000 in a 2008 MastroNet auction.

Even baseball card issues like the Sporting Life W-600 cabinet cards from the turn of the century have surfaced in private hands:

  This W-600 Sporting Life Cabinet of Boston’s Ed Abbaticchio was stolen from the HOF, as evidenced by the “PD” designation altered to read “BOB,” in red marker, on the reverse. The card was graded and encapsulated by SGC and sold by MastroNet in a 2008 auction.
In addition to photographs and baseball cards, rare, handwritten documents by Hall of Famers are being discovered as well.  A steady stream of stolen letters have appeared recently in the sales of Heritage Auctions in Dallas, Texas, but it appears that scores of other documents have been sold, “under the radar,” privately.  A perfect example of this is a rare letter written by John Montgomery Ward to Baseball’s National Commission.  The National Commission was headed by Cincinnati Reds owner August Herrmann, and the Hall of Fame collection features the “Herrmann Papers” collection, which includes all of Herrmann’s Reds and National Commission correspondence spanning from 1902-1927.  This letter written by Ward would be valued between $10,000- $20,000 if it was legitamately sold at public auction.  An honest collector sent this image to us:

This rare letter penned by hall of Famer John M. Ward was stolen from the National Baseball Library's "August Herrmann Papers" collection.

This past week Hall of Famer Nap Lajoie’s name was in the news when Sports Illustrated published a story about his battle for the 1910 AL batting title with Ty Cobb.  Thanks to our “Tips” line Lajoie’s name is also in the news as we expose this Carl Horner cabinet photo of Lajoie as stolen goods:

This Horner cabinet photo of Nap Lajoie has evidence of the red "PD" mark of the Hall of Fame on its reverse, along with additional evidence of the vandalization of the museum's acession number.

Additional “Tips” have come to our attention in the form of old advertisements publicizing the sales of stolen items from the Hall of Fame collection.  One in partiicular was a March 24, 2000 ad from Sports Collectors Digest placed by Virginia dealer Kevin Keating.  Keating offered a May 15, 1924 letter written by Hall of Famer and NY Yankee manager Miller Huggins to August Herrmann for $9,950.  Keating indicated in the ad that he acquired the stolen letter (and others) from the 1999 Sotheby’s Barry Halper Collection auction.  The Halper Collection and the Sotheby’s Halper Auction in 1999 were riddled with items stolen from institutional collections, including the Baseball Hall of Fame.

Dealer Kevin Keating offered this Miller Huggins letter, stolen from the Baseball Hall of Fame, for $9,950 in SCD.

The New York office of the Federal Bureau of Investigation is presently investigating similar baseball thefts from the New York Public Library’s A. G. Spalding Collection and FBI spokesperson Jim Margolin has indicated that the Cooperstown thefts are out of their jurisdiction.  An investigation into the Hall of Fame thefts would have to be conducted by the Albany, NY office of the FBI.  Albany FBI special agent Paul Holstein recently told that he could “neither confirm nor deny” if an investigation into the Hall of Fame thefts was underway.

Brad Horn, the Hall of Fame’s Senior Director of Communications was traveling and unavailable for comment.

The revelation of additional stolen Hall of Fame photographs being sold to collectors comes at the same time the Cooperstown museum announces its initiative to digitize the National Baseball Library’s 500,000 photographs.  The plan involves a partnership with the EMC Corporation, which will sponsor the digitization of the collections.  The Hall of Fame’s hope is that their collection of images will be available for fans online within the next three years.  We can only hope that the Hall recovers their missing photograph holdings in time for them to be included as part of their ambitious project. 

Thanks to honest collectors passing along these vital sightings of stolen items, the Hall of Fame just may have a head start in their efforts to recover what’s been swallowed up by the black market of baseball artifacts.

By Peter J. Nash

Sept. 15, 2010


1985 cover of The Sporting News featuring bogus jerseys from the Barry Halper Collection.
 presents our monthly news and notes column, CHIN MUSIC:

-On the heels of our investigation into the Baseball Hall of Fame’s fake Joe Jackson jersey, look out for our Fall, 2010, 5-Part Investigative Series: The Halper Uniform Collection; A Well Orchestrated Fraud?Among other things, we’ll lay out our findings which have determined that, in addition to the Jackson jersey, all of the Halper Collection uniforms featured on the cover of  The Sporting News in 1985 were also forgeries. Yogi in a fake Mugsy McGraw; Rickey being Rickey in a bogus Ty Cobb; etc. etc…. “What a Collection, indeed!”

-This Fall we will also be releasing our “Hot 100 List,” detailing the top one hundred Halper Collection items which were stolen from institutional collections.

-Related to the Barry Halper uniform collection, reports from the National in Baltimore indicated that the winner of  Halper’s 19th century Hughie Jennings  jersey, from the 1999 Sotheby’s sale, was quite distressed when he tried to consign his garment to some of the major auction houses.  We hear it was rejected by all who examined it…

-Sources close to the New York City Judiciary confirmed that collector Mark Lewis had a day in court at 60 Center St. in late August in regard to his possession of Babe Ruth’s stolen last will and testament.  The case is in front of Judge Doris-Ling Cohen (of the gay-marriage ruling fame).  We hear it was just a conference….

-Speaking of stolen wills, dealer Kevin Keating of Alexandria, Virginia is reportedly cooperating with the Boston Police Department in their efforts to recover the desecrated will of Abby Wright, wife of Hall-of-Famer George Wright.  He was offering a page wrongfully removed from her probate file and signed by her husband for $6,500 on his website. In late July, Detective Steven Blair of the BPD told the Boston Herald that they planned to ”pursue it criminally” if Keating, who is also an authenticator for PSA/DNA, “didn’t agree to give it back.”  A call to BPD this week confirmed that, the Wright document hasn’t arrived back in Boston, yet.

- The recently announced partnership between PSA/DNA and the Baseball Hall of Fame gives new meaning to the term “strange bed-fellows.” Along with JSA/James Spence Authentication, PSA has authenticated and certified a record number of stolen items from the Hall of Fame’s collection.  That’s not the type of record-breaking baseball fans expect at the Cooperstown shrine…

-Philadelphia Probate Court Deputy of Wills, Ralph Wynder, confirms that neither local law enforcement or the FBI has been in contact with him about the return of the stolen will of baseball pioneer Harry Wright.  The present owner of the stolen document has also failed to contact Wynder and the court.  Wright’s great-great granddaughter, Pam Guzzi, is not pleased. has confirmed the thefts of two more Hall-of-Famer wills:  Roger Connor’s is missing from the Connecticut State Archives and the last will and testament of Johnnie “The Crab” Evers is missing from the Albany, NY, probate court.  Surprisingly, the last will and testament of  “Buck” Ewing is ”safe at home” under lock and key in a Cincinnati courthouse.

The rarest of all Hall of Famer autographs is that of William "Buck" Ewing. This signature found on his last will and testament is safe from the "will thieves" in a Cincinnati city vault.

- Sources at the State Archives of Hawaii confirm that Hawaii’s Attorney General is looking into the theft of the famous 1865 Alexander Cartwright onion-skin letter written to Knickerbocker Charles DeBost.  The letter was sold by Barry Halper in the 1999 Sotheby’s sale.

- Anne Cartwright, widow of Alexander Cartwright’s great-grandson, William, passed away last week in Hawaii.  Most of the Cartwright related items in the baseball memorabilia world were sold to collectors and dealers by Anne and her husband in 1980s and 90s.

(Top) Cartwright Letter as it appeared at Sotheby's in 1999, with page number and Archive of Hawaii mark removed. (Bottom) The same letter as it appeared with stamp in the State of Hawaii Archives in 1989.

-In the wake of his groundbreaking investigative report on Al Stump’s shenanigans related to his Ty Cobb Collection, Dr. Ron Cobb is trying to track down the Georgia Peach’s dental records to confirm that the Cobb dentures sold by Barry Halper at Sotheby’s in 1999 were literally, “false teeth.”

-Ron Cobb has also confirmed that the will of Ty Cobb is safe and secure in the Habersham County Probate Court in Clarkesville, GA.

-Sadly, since the release of the Haulsofshame.com10 Most Wanted Missing National Baseball Treasures List,” not one of the items has yet been recovered. However, we hear that the Boston Public Library is in hot pursuit of the #5 item on the list, the 1892 Photo of the Boston Beaneaters featuring “King Kelly.” The stolen photo was sold by Barry Halper at Sotheby’s in 1999.


HOT CORNER: Selections of Alleged Stolen Baseball Treasures in Recent Auctions:

-In one of their Sunday Internet Auction’s in August, Heritage Auctions offered this alleged stolen Kenesaw Mountain Landis letter from the Baseball Hall of Fame’s August Herrmann Papers Collection. The HOF library has a file (Box 35, File Folder 1) which contains Landis correspondence to Cincy Red executive Larry MacPhail spanning from “1934-35.” The Heritage letter is dated from Sept. 11, 1935. Heritage removed the letter from the auction after Chris Ivy was contacted by The FBI and the Baseball Hall of Fame were also notified of the letter’s inclusion in the sale. The MacPhail letter is latest in a series of letters offered and withdrawn by Heritage because of evidence suggesting they were stolen from the National Baseball Library in Cooperstown.

Kenesaw Mountain Landis letter suspected stolen from the National Baseball Library in Cooperstown, NY. Heritage Auctions removed the letter from their August sale after they were presented with evidence suggesting the letter originated from the Baseball Hall of Fame's "August Herrmann Papers."

-Special Agent Paul Holstein of the FBI’s Albany, NY office would neither confirm nor deny that the FBI has re-opened their late 1980’s investigation into thefts from the Baseball Hall of Fame.
-Legendary Auctions, in their August sale, sold an 1887 Imperial Cabinet Photo of the Lowell BBC featuring Hall-of-Famer Hugh Duffy.  The photo is suspected to have been stolen from the Boston Public Library’s famous “M. T. McGreevy Baseball Picture Collection.  The same photo was sold at Mastro Auctions’ November, 2000, sale along with another stolen BPL photo, which has since been recovered by the institution.  The photo sold for close to $4,000 in the Legendary sale.
UPDATE:  Legendary Auctions head Doug Allen contacted after our item about the 1887 Lowell cabinet ran and expressed concern about the photo that had already been sent out to the winning bidder at the time our article was published.  We had not called Allen about the Lowell photo before we released the information, but after reading our column Allen immediately contacted the winning bidder in an effort to see if the photograph and its mount had any identifying marks from the Boston Public Library.  Upon inspection, out of its frame, the new owner reported to us that the albumen print and original mount had no visible marks that the BPL has historically placed on items in the “McGreevey Baseball Picture Collection.” (The BPL collection includes some photos that bear no ownership marks or stamps.)
The BPL “Missing List,”  however, still features an entry marked, “Lowell Baseball Team, New England League.” So while this new information is by no means 100% definitive, it appears that this item is very likely not one of Nuf Ced’s missing treasures.
(Note:  It appears that the same photo was offered in a Lew Lipset auction in 1991 and the description noted that the Chickering cabinet, “Appears to be (in) original frame.”  The winning bidder says he’ll give Mr. Lipset a call to see if even more definitive information can add to this particular photo’s permanent removal from the “suspect” list.  Collectors should keep their eyes peeled for other “Lowells” that fit the bill. 

An Imperial cabinet photo of the 1887 Lowell Base Ball Club, similar to the one shown above, fits the description of a photo suspected to have been stolen from the Boston Public Library's "McGreevey Baseball Picture Collection." The missing photo of the Lowell BBC, featuring Hugh Duffy, once hung on the walls of McGreevy's famous "3rd Base Saloon."

Which one of these rare letters written by Baseball Hall of Famer James “Orator” O’Rourke is currently in the files of the National Baseball Hall of Fame’s “August Herrmann Papers” Collection?  Which letter was sold for big-bucks at auction in the early 1990’s? 
In the letter addressed to August Herrmann on Sept. 22, 1916,  O’Rourke asks for “fifteen (World) series tickets at Boston v. Brooklyn and 15 series (tickets) at Brooklyn.”  In the letter addressed to Herrmann on Sept. 27, 1916, O’Rourke thanks Herrmann for sending him “five three game series tickets in each city.” 

(Left) Sept. 22, 1916 James O'Rourke letter to August Herrmann asking for 1916 World Series Tickets. (Right) Sept. 27, 1916 James O'Rourke letter to August Herrmann thanking him for sending him requested tickets to the 1916 World Series.

ANSWER:  The O’Rourke letter to the left appeared in Richard Wolfers Auctions’ 1992 sale as Lot 138 with an estimated value of “$10,000-12,500.”  The O’Rourke letter to the right is still part of the Baseball Hall of Fame’s “August Herrmann Papers” Collection and located in Folder 45 of  ”Series XXIV. Minor Leagues and Teams 1902-1927.”  Folder 45 is designated by the HOF as, “O’Rourke, James H.   President (Season Pass)  1914-16.”  The Herrmann Papers at the National Baseball Library include seven letters written by O’Rourke to Herrmann.

A recent "tip" to unearthed this Horner cabinet photo of Nap Lajoie that was stolen from the Hall of Fame. The upper-right hand corner still shows remnants of "PD" written in red marker, designating the image as "public domain" for publication. The bottom shows damage from the removal of the HOF accession number. This Lajoie photo is one of many Hall of Fame treasures wrongfully removed from the National Baseball Library.

So, does a quiz question for the Baseball Hall of Fame seem appropriate?  Close to twenty years after the O’Rourke letter was offered by the San Francisco auction house of Wolfers, why is this letter not back in Cooperstown?  Has the Hall of Fame, under the leadership of Jane Forbes Clark, aggressively pursued recovery of their O’Rourke letter and scores of others suspected to have been stolen from the collection?  Just this week three rare Hall of Famer cabinet photos and one W-600 Sporting Life cabinet, all bearing identifying marks of the HOF, came to our attention through our “Tips” line.  The number of  photos and cabinet cards flooding the black market is staggering. 
The Hall of Fame and the FBI aren’t talking about dropping the ball on an investigation in the late 1980s.  Will they drop the ball again?  Inquiring minds want to know (not to mention both past and possible future Hall of Fame donors.)  How long will it be before one of the Hall’s August Herrmann letters shows up on the PBS Antiques Road Show?
(This article was updated on Sept. 20th, with new information related to the Legendary Auction’s sale of an 1887 Lowell BBC Chickering cabinet photo)
(Special Thanks go to our friends who have sent us “Tips” at: .)