Breaking News

By Peter J. Nash

Dec. 29, 2010

Barry Halper even fooled "The Mick" with his alleged #6 1951 Mantle rookie jersey. This photo and graphic appeared in the Baseball Hall of Fame's official tourist brochure for the 1999-2001 Barry Halper Gallery. The jersey pictured was a forgery purchased by MLB and later returned to Halper by the Hall of Fame. After Halper's death it was sold in 2007 by REA as a "replica."

 

2010 unleashed a host of investigative reports that blew the lid off long-standing hobby frauds and hoaxes that had been covered up for decades. Haulsofshame.com reported on controversial issues that the press ignored and refused to tackle themselves.  The reports published resulted in:  the Baseball Hall of Fame admitting their alleged “Shoeless Joe” Jackson jersey was a fake; the exposure of Barry Halper and Al Stump as the perpetrators of frauds; the confirmation that the National Baseball Library, the New York Public Library and the Archives of Hawaii were victimized in massive thefts; and that Baseball power-brokers like Bud Selig and Jane Forbes Clark were swindled by one of their own.

When Haulsofshame.com first launched this past Spring, we had a few thousand unique visitors for the month of April.  By November we were averaging over 15,000 visitors per month and by the new year, the visits are fast approaching the 20,000 mark.  Special thanks go out to all of our readers for their continued support. 

 Here’s a look back at the Investigative Reports of 2010:

1.  Hauls of Shame Reports “Shoeless Joe” Jackson’s 1919 Jersey at the Hall of Fame is a Fake;  Cooperstown Officials Confirm Report:

http://haulsofshame.com/blog/?m=201008

http://haulsofshame.com/blog/?m=201009

2.  SABR’s Ron Cobb Exposes Al Stump’s Relic and Literary Fraud Against Ty Cobb . Barry Halper’s Infamous Cobb Shotgun Uncovered as a Fake. 

http://haulsofshame.com/blog/?p=874

3.  Barry Halper Dupes Mickey Mantle, the Baseball Hall of Fame and MLB with a Bogus 1951 “Rookie” Jersey Attributed to “The Mick”

http://haulsofshame.com/blog/?m=201010

4.  Mike Gutierrez of  Antiques Roadshow Linked to HOF Theft and Banishment.  Cooperstown Thefts in 1980s Tied to Current Heritage Auction Sales

http://haulsofshame.com/blog/?m=201011

http://haulsofshame.com/blog/?p=536

http://haulsofshame.com/blog/?p=47

5.  FBI Investigation Links Barry Halper to Stolen Harry Wright Letters From NYPL’s  Famous Spalding Collection 

http://haulsofshame.com/blog/?p=1443

6.  Historian John Thorn Discovers Knickerbocker Score Sheets From Storied Game of 1846 are Missing from the NYPL’s Spalding Collection

http://haulsofshame.com/blog/?p=3

7.  Famous 1865 Cartwright Letter to Knickerbocker Teammate Confirmed Stolen from the Archives of Hawaii

http://haulsofshame.com/blog/?p=475

8.  Hauls of Shame Releases the “10 Most Wanted Missing National Baseball Treasures List”

http://haulsofshame.com/blog/?p=226

9.  Dave Grob’s Red Sox Uniform Nightmare: Jerseys of Cy Young and Jimmy Collins Analyzed

http://haulsofshame.com/blog/?p=2777

10.  Babe Ruth’s Will Confirmed Stolen From NYC Courthouse

http://haulsofshame.com/blog/?p=775

11. Bud Selig Thinks Abner Doubleday Invented Baseball; Doubleday Docs Missing from NYS Archives: Pioneer Docs Missing from HOF

http://haulsofshame.com/blog/?p=2347

http://haulsofshame.com/blog/?p=2250

12. Wills of Baseball Hall of Famer Harry Wright and Others Still Missing after Thefts in the 1990s

http://haulsofshame.com/blog/?p=573

13. Cooperstown Thefts Uncovered: Robert Edward Auctions Offers Rare Mickey Welch Card Stolen From Hall; Stolen Christy Mathewson and Jake Beckley Cabinet Cards Have HOF Ownership Marks 

 http://haulsofshame.com/blog/?p=84

http://haulsofshame.com/blog/?p=1639

http://haulsofshame.com/blog/?p=692

14.  Sotheby’s and Barry Halper Sell Stolen Boston Contract and Letter Awarding Boston the Pennant of 1875

http://haulsofshame.com/blog/?p=334

http://haulsofshame.com/blog/?p=165

15. Ty Cobb Letters Swiped from the Archives of The Sporting News are Recovered

http://haulsofshame.com/blog/?p=639

After Haulsofshame.com published a report claiming that the HOFs alleged 1919 "Shoeless Joe" Jackson jersey was a fake, the NY POST, on Oct. 4, 2010, (above) reported that the Hall of Fame admitted the jersey was fraudulent.


By Peter J. Nash

Dec 20, 2010

JSA authenticated this telegram written by a telegraph operator as a genuine autograph of HOFer Harry Wright.

 

-JSA, James Spence Authentication, recently authenticated a telegram sent by Harry Wright to player Bob Allen in 1891. JSA said it bore an authentic signature of Phillies manager Harry Wright. But the handwriting doesn’t even remotely match Wright’s, and the telegram was clearly documented as the one player Bob Allen was delivered on the receiving end. It was written by a telegraph operator in Cleveland and put in an envelope (which also was presented to JSA with the telegram) for delivery to Allen. How can collectors be confident JSA can authenticate Mickey Mantle and Cal Ripken signatures, when they drop the ball on an item like this?

-The Harry Wright telegram controversy made its way onto Net54, where a collector with the handle Old13man described a communication he had with Robert Edward Auctions head Rob Lifson and posed the question:  “..we are baffled as to can a telegram be written by Wright?  Would he call the telegram or could he have written one to then be sent?”

Answer:  Yes, telegrams written by Harry Wright do exist and they are the actual original copies he walked into or delivered to the telegraph offices on his end in the transmission.  Examples of these handwritten Wright telegrams are found in the New York Public Library’s Vol. 2 scrapbook of the Harry Wright Correspondence Collection.  Of course, volumes 1, 3 and 4 were stolen from the NYPL in the 1970s along with many other telegram drafts that Wright executed in his own hand.  If collectors have any similar Harry Wright telegrams in their collection, they should contact the New York office of the FBI at:  ny1@ic.fbi.gov

These three telegrams executed in the hand of Harry Wright in 1878 are presently found in the Wright Correspondence Scrabook Vol. 2, at the New York Public Library. Wright telegrams similar to these in private collections are items that were once housed in the three volumes stolen from the famous Spalding Collection in the 1970s.

-Harry Wright’s stolen telegrams have appeared on the market in the past few decades. One was sold in Mastro’s April, 1999,  sale as part of a “Humongous Hall of Fame Autograph Collection.” 

This 1884 telegram written by Harry Wright was stolen from the NYPL's Harry Wright Correspondence Collection's scrapbook, Vol.3.

-The Baseball Hall of Fame’s letters addressed to August Herrmann appear to have surfaced in other sales conducted by Mike Gutierrez.  In May of 2003 he sold a lot of over 100 letters in his MGA auction, including at least one letter to Herrmann from John Ganzel.  In October of 2004, he again sold the Ganzel letter to Herrmann dated Feb. 9, 1910.  In the letter Ganzel writes Herrmann, on behalf of the Rochester “Hustlers” Baseball Club, asking for a leave of absence for player William Maloney.  At the National Baseball Libraryin Cooperstown, the Herrmann Papers archive features two folders of letters from Ganzel to Herrmann.  One of those letters is dated Feb. 12, 1910, and Ganzel tells Herrmann, “Your very kind…favor of Feb. 10th, in reply to mine of the 9th, relative to player Maloney, duly received.”

This Feb. 12, 1910 letter from John Ganzel to August Herrmann is part of the HOF's "Herrmann Papers" archive. Another Ganzel letter to Herrmann, dated Feb. 9, 1910, was sold twice at auction (inset) by Mike Gutierrez in 2003 and 2004.

-Babe Ruth forgeries are everywhere…..Sports Collectors Daily just advertised an embarassingly fake Ruth signature on a  “2010 Topps Tribute” card, and alleges it features authentic signatures of the 1927 Yankees.  Here’s the article:   http://www.sportscollectorsdaily.com/1927-yankees-topps-tribute-card-pulled-consigned/ Billed as a “1-1 Legendary Lineups autograph book card,” the Topps product features horrible forgeries of both Ruth and Gehrig.  Who authenticated this one?  The experts we spoke to deemed them poorly executed forgeries.  The card is being offered on EBAY by Beckett Select Auctions with a minimum bid of $20,000.

-A comment by Richard Simon on Net54 sums up the cut signature fiasco best.  He said:  “If Upper Deck can be stupid enough to use multiple forgeries in their cards, why can’t Topps be stupid too?”

These two horrible Ruth and Gehrig forgeries are featured in Topps' "Legendary Lineup Autograph Book" card. The card is being offered on EBAY by Beckett Select Auctions.

-In the New Year, Hauls of Shame will also examine the many Babe Ruth forgeries sold in Sotheby’s Halper Collection Auction. 

-Speaking of the “Sultan of Swat”, Dave Grob, is thoroughly researching Ruth’s alleged 1914 Red Sox “rookie jersey” that was once one of the premier items in the Barry Halper Collection.  We hear he’s uncovered even more evidence that proves this Bambino is “cursed.”

-We hear that collectors should keep their eyes peeled for a large group of Tomlinson Detroit player cabinets that were stolen from the NYPL’s Spalding Collection.  We will examine this story closer in the near future.

This Tomlinson cabinet photo of Charlie Bennett was stolen from the NYPL's Spalding Collection. It was never listed on the NYPL "Missing List" created in 1987. Collectors who know of its whereabouts should contact the FBI's NY office.

- Hauls of Shame will usher in 2011 with the unveiling of an exclusive report featuring the “Halper HOT 100 List.”  The list features the top 100 stolen items that were once part of the Barry Halper Collection.

UPDATE (Dec. 27, 2010): Although the Beckett Select Ebay auction was terminated early for the 1927 Yankee “Topps Tribute Card,”  neither Topps nor Beckett returned phone calls inquiring who authenticated the Ruth and Gehrig signatures.  The video featuring the card, once featured on the Beckett site, is also inaccessible.

-Although it has been definitively established that the 1891 Harry Wright telegram to Bob Allen was written by a telegraph operator, and not Harry Wright, the telegram, (still with its LOA from James Spence Authentication) is being peddled as a real Wright signature in Steve Verkman’s current Clean Sweep Auction.  http://www.csauctions.com/item.cgi?show_item=0000310685

UPDATE (Dec. 29, 2010):  Beckett disclosed that the 1927 Yankee “Topps Tribute” card was pulled from the EBAY auction because of the questions about the authenticity of the signatures featured on the card.  They also confirmed that PSA/DNA authenticated the item and that they still stand behind their opinion that all of the signatures are genuine.  Beckett is reported to be consulting with James Spence Authentication (JSA) for an additional opinion on the item.  That’s the same James Spence who authenticated a telegram written by a telegraph operator, as an authentic Harry Wright signature- That’s the same telegram still being offered for sale with a fraudulent JSA LOA at Clean Sweep Auctions.

(Special thanks go to those contributing to our reporting via our “Tips” line atTips@haulsofshame.com)


By Peter J. Nash

Dec. 16, 2010

August Herrmann's correspondence files are housed at the National Baseball Library.

 

In 1960, the Baseball Hall of Fame acquired the personal and business files of Cincinnati Reds owner August Herrmann, who was also the Chairman of Baseball’s National Commission.  The National Commission and Herrmann ruled the game before the office of the Commissioner was established with the appointment of Judge Kenesaw Mountain Landis in 1920.   Reds owner Powel Crosley Jr. donated the massive archive, which he found in a storage room at Crosley Field, contributing what has become known as the greatest research tool available for the study of the Dead-Ball Era.  In 1960, The Sporting News estimated the collection included “over 45,000 letters” and they quoted Hall of Fame historian Lee Allen as saying, “This is the most valuable accumulation of baseball lore ever assembled in one place.”

We recently uncovered and reported significant evidence showing how this great archive has been compromised by large-scale thefts from Cooperstown in the 1980’s, however, the majority of the collection is still in tact thanks to the conservation efforts of the current National Baseball Library officials and employees.  Half of the collection is now available on microfilm thanks to funding provided by the Yawkey Foundation.

In the course of our research we’ve been able to document the types of materials housed in the famous collection.  It features everything from handwritten letters to contracts and sworn affidavits related to some of the most important events in baseball history.  The collection includes documents from the Merkle incident of 1908 and correspondence covering gambling issues and the Black Sox scandal in 1919.  It also contains mundane notes and telegrams documenting player transactions and original orders for uniforms, equipment and even ballpark peanuts.   It’s a veritable treasure-trove of baseball history that we wanted to share with our readers.  Here are some of the true “Gems” of the “Herrmann Papers” Collection:

Letters to August Herrmann as Cincinnati Reds Owner:

Many letters sent to Herrmann from American League President Ban Johnson were stolen from the Hall of Fame and have since been sold at public auction.  This historic letter eluded theft and shows that if Herrmann had is way, Babe Ruth would have been a Cincinnati Red.

AL President Ban Johnson informs August Herrmann that the Red Sox have no interest in letting go of their rookie pitcher Babe Ruth (Courtesy National Baseball Library)

Letters to the Cincinnati Reds Regarding Uniform and Equipment Orders: 

Dave Grob’s  research on early twentieth-century uniforms benefited from his discoveries in the “Herrmann Papers” archive.  His recent article for MEARS shows how important the Hall of Fame’s archive is to his work authenticating uniforms: http://www.mearsonline.com/news/newsDetail.asp?id=770  The documents in the archive related to uniform ordering offers unique insight into the way ballclubs chose manufacturers and how they went about outfitting their players.

The Herrmann archive includes correspondence from the Spalding Company about uniform orders for the Reds. (Top) Spalding writes Herrmann about the Red order for the 1915 season and also includes Spalding's hand drawn artist renderings of the uniforms for that season (bottom).

 

Major League Contracts and Player Transfers Reviewed by the National Commission:

Herrmann and the League Presidents oversaw player contract disputes and other labor issues under the reserve clause.  In this case Boston hurler ”Smoky Joe” Wood refused to sign his contract with the Red Sox in 1916.

The Herrmann archive also features contract and player transfer documents reviewed by the National Commission. One file (above) is dedicated to Joe Wood and his 1916 contract dispute with the Red Sox. (Courtesy of National Baseball Library)

Sworn Affidavits of Players, Umpires and Managers From Protested Games:

The Herrmann archive includes all of the files for protested games reviewed by the National Commission from the turn-of- the- century though the 1920s.  In these files are affidavits from some of the most famous (and infamous) contests in the history of the game.  The file for the protested ”Merkle Boner” game of 1908 is as thick as a phone book.  Here’s what Christy Mathewson said he saw:

And Fred Merkle’s statement:

Fred Merkle recalled how he, "took second base and stood there until Mathewson came along..." (Courtesy National Baseball Library)

Rare and Scarce Authentic Autographs From Baseball Hall of Famers:

Recently Ron Keurajian has been researching the Herrmann archive via microfilm provided by the National Baseball Library staff.  He’s been scouring the Herrmann documents in the quest for authentic exemplars of handwriting to be featured in his upcoming autograph compendium, Signatures From Cooperstown.  Here’s the type of material he’s finding:

The Herrmann archive features a who's who of Hall of Fame signatures. This sampling features (from top to bottom), Ned Hanlon, Joe Kelley, A. G. Spalding and Honus Wagner. Although many have been wrongfully removed in the tragic thefts from the National Baseball Library, some of the rarest signatures known to exist are still in the Cooperstown collection.

Stay tuned in 2011 for Part II of our in-depth examination of the Hall of Fame’s “Herrmann Papers” archive…. 


By Dave Grob

Dec. 8, 2010

John "The Count" Montefusco models an alleged Cy Young jersey for a 1985 issue of The Sporting News featuring the Barry Halper uniform collection. (Photo by Rich Pilling, Courtesy of The Sporting News)

 

Back in June of 2009, I was sent the jersey of an early 20th Century Hall of Famer for my analysis and opinion. Projects like this are simply the dream of any baseball researcher and uniform evaluator. Unfortunately, dreams can quickly turn into nightmares. In this case, it cost someone $26,450. Below are the comments I provided based upon my evaluation of the jersey that turned out to be Lot # 381 from the September, 1999, Sotheby’s Barry Halper Auction.  The player alleged to have worn the jersey was Hall of Famer Jimmy Collins. The plates referenced in my evaluation of the Collins jersey are numbered I-X.

SUBJECT: 1901-1907 Jimmy Collins Boston Americans Home Jersey

For the purpose of evaluation and description, this jersey is referred to as a 1901-1907 Jimmy Collins Boston Americans home jersey. After a detailed visual inspection and evaluation of this jersey using lighted magnification, a light table, a digital microscope, UV light and various references, I offer the following noted observations:

1. Dating the jersey: The jersey features a full collar with lace up neck closure and old English font “B A” on the crest. In very general terms this places the jersey to the period of roughly 1902-1908. While early 20th Century uniform styles can be found in years other than depicted in references such as the “Dressed to the Nines” uniform database of the National Baseball Hall Fame, this style has been referenced to both 1902 and 1908 for the Boston Americans. The jersey is attributed to Jimmy Collins as indicated by the stitched name “Collins” in the collar. Jimmy Collins was the only player with this surname playing for the Boston American League ball club during this general period.

Jimmy Collins played for the Boston American League team from 1901 through June 7th, 1907, when he was traded to the Philadelphia Athletics for John Knight. As such, the jersey is not likely a 1908 offering ordered for his subsequent use.

2. Confirming the style: I was unable to confirm this style with respect fundamental basics of construction of font styles as a function of type and placement:

Plate I

a.PLATES I-III show that the placement of the gothic “B” and “A” are lower than what period images show, including one for Jimmy Collins.

Plate II

b. PLATE IV highlights the font inconsistencies of the letter “B”.

Plate IV

c. PLATE V highlights the font inconsistencies with the letter “A”.

Plate V

d. PLATES VI and VII show that while there are known variations of both font style and placement (as well as some jerseys found with button closures as opposed to draw strings), this offered jersey can not be identified as one of those variations through combination of both font style and placement.

Plate VII

3. Manufacturer: The manufacturer of this jersey is the Wright & Ditson(W&D) Company of Boston, MA. Although W&D was acquired by the Spalding company in 1891, they continued to provide uniforms to the major leagues under their own label. Examples can be found in the collection of the National Baseball Hall of Fame including:

a. Trousers; W&D, 1898, Cleveland Spiders
b.Trousers; W&D, 1907, Boston Red Sox
c. Trousers; W&D, 1911, Cleveland Indians
d.Trousers; W&D, 1912-1913, Boston Red Sox

Plate VIII

This style manufacturers label is the same type that can be found in the 1898 Cleveland Spiders trousers. (PLATE VIII). Given the cited examples and the co-location of W&D Sporting Goods with the ball club in Boston, I have no objections with accepting W&D as a likely supplier of uniforms to the Boston American League ball club during this time frame.

4. Size: The jersey is without any tagged or recorded size and this is typical for jerseys from this time frame. The measured size of the jersey is approximately a size 50 as the shirt measures some 25” across the chest. Jimmy Collins is listed as being 5’ 9” and 178 lbs. As such, it would appear that this jersey is  quite a bit larger than what I would have expected to see. The images provided of Jimmy Collins from this same time frame do appear to show him wearing jerseys that appear disproportional with respect to his frame or build.

Plate IX

5.Construction: The jersey is constructed with early 20th Century characteristics including the Western style collar and shoulder construction. The shirt features ¾ length sleeves with button openings to facilitate the attachment of sleeve extensions. These are all consistent with what you would expect to find in an early 20th century offering. However, the fabric used for the body of the jersey is atypical. Under UV lighting, the entirety of the body gives off a fluorescent, something I would not expect to see if the jersey was constructed with non-synthetic fibers of the period. In addition, the white thread used to affix the Wright & Ditson manufacturers label in the collar presents the same problem. Additionally, there is an open line of seam holes in the rear of the collar area. (PLATE IX) This is problematic when you consider the W&D manufacturers label and the player identification of Collins is only sewn through the first fold in the collar. The jersey does feature seven (7) eyelets in the neck area to accommodate the drawstring. This number is appropriate for the period as indicated by the provided images. The closing stitching of the jersey where separate portions of fabric are joined is rough in appearance with respect to both cut and stitching. This is also atypical from what I would have expected to find. The W&D manufacturer’s tag, while correct for the period, does feature open seam holes as well when the tag is rolled back (PLATE X).

Plate X

6. Use and Wear: With the exception of some fabric bleed from the felt “B” and “A” to the inside of the jersey, the jersey shows no real signs of use, wear or aging. There is one small 1 ½” fabric repair in the lower left front of the jersey. There is also some slight fabric bleed around the stitching of the “Collins” in the near of the collar. UV lighting also shows pinkish/red blotches throughout the rear tail of the jersey. There is also a blue pen like stain just below the right bottom drawstring eyelet. Of note is the fact that it appears two different colors of thread may have been used to construct these eyelets based on how those fabrics have faded. Finally, UV lighting shows no signs of other stains or soiling that one might typically expect to see.

OPINION: Based on the inconsistencies cited with respect to font style and placement, jersey size, fabric used for the body and the manner the garment was finished, as well as what may likely have been the collar opened up to accommodate the adding of the W&D manufacturers tag and “Collins,” I am unable to authenticate this jersey as one that would have been issued to and worn by Jimmy Collins while playing for the Boston American League from 1901-1907.

Dave Grob, MEARS  (End of Jimmy Collins Letter of Opinion)

Recurring Nightmares

Dreams and nightmares can be recurring. When this happens, we seem to recall what we saw or experienced in an even more vivid manner with each subsequent occurrence. To cut to the chase, I think I’m having a recurring nightmare. Last month I was sent some images of various jerseys by the folks at Hauls of Shame and asked if I could provide any insight or thoughts on them.

My experience and background in the area of providing opinions on baseball uniforms is a bit different than most who work in this field. I have never been a dealer of the product, but rather a researcher and collector. By profession, I am a recently retired Army Lieutenant Colonel having served as both an Infantry and Intelligence Officer. Along the way I have been trained in various intelligence methods and processes that I have been able to apply to my hobby. It has been a powerful and rewarding combination.

What I saw in the photograph of the Barry Halper Cy Young jersey made me think of the Collins right away. I noticed a number of similarities in the work. Notice I said work and not jerseys. As an intelligence officer, we are accustomed to gathering data in order to build profiles and signatures in order to answers any number of questions. This fundamental data allows you to see various events in a comparative nature, which lends itself to being able to identify trends. Trends with respect to what is happening, why they might be happening, as well as the source. This is no different than the studying the work of a bomb or IED maker. While I have not had the opportunity to examine the Cy Young jersey first hand, I did see:

- Common problems with the general font style
- Common problems with the placement of the “B A” with respect to the button line
- Common source of the product to the hobby
- Common aspect of desirability as both Young and Collins are members of the Hall of Fame

I have no idea in what order Mr. Halper acquired these jerseys. By that I mean if he acquired them both at the same time, were they found satisfactory because they were consistent with each other? If they were acquired over time, were they found satisfactory because the more recent acquisition was consistent with the former? When they were offered for subsequent sale, were they both seen as satisfactory because one compared well to the other and they came from the prominent source?

While comparing jerseys to each other is wonderful point of departure, I am constantly reminding the folks who send items to me that no jersey can serve as an example for itself nor can it serve solely as the basis for making an informed purchase decision. As you can see, the problems with these jerseys could have been identified with some basic imagery analysis. Identifying the problems with Collins jersey fabrics and the re-stitching required a bit more than looking at a picture or reading a catalog description. It took:

-Time
-An evaluation grounded in consistent processes and methodologies
-The resources (technology/references) to do credible work

My message to collectors today is as simple as it was years ago when I began doing this work…

-Know what right looks like before you buy.
- Provenance can only make an item more desirable, it can’t make it into something it is not, no matter the source.

When collectors choose to forgo this simple advice, the jersey of their dreams can turn into a nightmare overnight. While you can always wake up from a bad dream…a $26,450 nightmare is a bit tougher to slough off in the morning.

As always, collect what you enjoy and enjoy what you collect.

(For questions or comments on this article, please feel free to drop Dave Grob a line at DaveGrob1@aol.com)

(Haulsofshame.com has uncovered additional information about the Collins and Young jerseys that, in addition to Dave Grob’s analysis, can definitively prove that the two questioned Boston jerseys are elaborate forgeries.  Watch for continuing coverage of the Halper Uniform Scandal in our upcoming reports.)