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By Peter J. Nash

Aug. 30, 2011

This Al Reach cabinet photo is currently for sale on eBay.

 

A photograph fitting the description of a missing cabinet card of baseball pioneer Al Reach, stolen decades ago from the New York Public Library’s famous A. G. Spalding Collection, appears to have made its way onto eBay.

The rare photo was identified by collector and 19th century photography aficionado, Jimmy Leiderman, of Miami, Florida.  While vacationing in Aruba last weekend, Leiderman spotted the eBay offering of the Reach cabinet on his BlackBerry.  Said Leiderman, “I’ve followed the investigation into the NYPL thefts pretty closely and when I saw this image, I just knew it might be the missing Reach, it’s quite a rare image.”

 A 19th-century cabinet photo created by the Philadelphia photographer, Phillip Edward Chillman, was documented on the NYPL’s 1922 inventory of the Spalding Collection but, after an inventory was taken by the library in 1987, it was discovered missing along with another photograph of Reach. Both cabinet photos appear on the NYPL’s official “Missing List” for the Spalding Collection’s photographic archive and both appear to have been offered at various auctions in the 1990s.  (We published a report about the other missing Reach photo this past January and confirmed it was sold at Richard Wolfers Auctions.)

 The card being offered on eBay by a seller in Indiana called “earlierera” currently has an opening bid at $49.99, but the rarity is worth several thousand dollars in the rare baseball collectibles marketplace.  The seller also notes, “Photographs like this seldom become available in the marketplace.”  The eBay seller does not give a full view of the card’s reverse, which could show evidence of the NYPL ownership marks if it is, in fact, the missing photo.

In the eBay description, the seller from Inglefield, IN, states that he acquired the photograph, “15 years or so ago at the National Sports Collectors convention.”

In 1997, Slater’s Americana of Indianapolis, Indiana, offered what appears to be the same photo in a Sports Collectors Digest auction featuring several other rare cabinet cards.   In the offering, Slater’s listed a value of $350 for the photograph and described the item as a:  “Very rare early cabinet photo of A. J. Reach c. 1880’s by Edw. Cullman Studio NY.”

A cabinet photo of Al Reach fitting the description of the missing NYPL example was included in a report submitted to the FBI in 2009. This is the page from that report.

Slater’s Americana was owned by Tom Slater who is now employed by Heritage Auction Galleries in Dallas, Texas, as their “Director of Americana Auctions.”

In 2009, Haulsofshame.com submitted a report to the Federal Bureau of Investigation and the NYPL detailing  items stolen from the library in the 1970s and including  information related to the sale of suspect items fitting descriptions of items missing from the Spalding Collection.  The Reach cabinet card offered by Slater’s in 1997 was included in the report submitted to the FBI as a possible match for the missing photo.  The photograph depicted in the 1997 Slater’s auction was not definitive since the quality of the image was so poor.

The same cabinet photo of Al Reach offered currently on eBay was also sold at Slater's Political Gallery in 1996. The damage on the upper right corners of both photos is identical.

However, Jimmy Leiderman, upon his return home to Florida from vacation recalled that the same Reach cabinet may have appeared in another Slater’s sale.   Leiderman refered to a Slater’s Political Gallery catalogue from November of 1996 and found the Reach cabinet depicted as lot 5 in that auction.  The photo in the 1996 sale is the exact same one that is being offered on eBay.  Both photographs exhibit the exact same crease and damage on the upper right corner of the albumen print.

Jimmy Leiderman requested additional scans of the reverse of the card from the seller and this morning the seller posted the image of the reverse on eBay.  The image confirmed that the card is the missing Reach from the NYPL, evidenced by the tell-tale numeral “3″ handwritten on the upper left corner.  The numeral was originally written by baseball researcher Charles W. Mears sometime after1922, as Mears was responsible for cataloguing the collection for storage in boxes.  The “3″ indicates that the card was stored in “Box 3″ of the Spalding Collection.

The eBay posting of the reverse of the Reach cabinet card confirms that the card is the property of the NYPL. The tell-tale numeral "3" in the upper left hand corner shows the card was originally stored in "Box 3" of the Spalding Collection.

All of the other photographs stored in “Box 3″ of the Spalding Collection bear the exact same “3″ in the identical handwriting of Mears.  Additionally, the card of Ben Sanders, currently in the NYPL collection, bears an inscription stating, “Identified by C. W. Mears.”  The Reach card likely has the same NYPL ownership stamps, but the quality of the image posted on eBay is not sufficient to see those marks on the card’s brown board mount.

This card of player Ben Sanders in the NYPL's Spalding Collection bears the same handwritten "3" in the corner as the Reach cabinet being sold on eBay. Both were once stored together in the same "Box 3" of the Spalding Collection.

Both of the missing Al Reach cabinet photos were once part of the Barry Halper collection and one of them appears on the Haulsofshame.comHalper Hot 100 List” as item number 56.  Sources indicate that Slater’s auction may have acquired the other missing photo from Halper.  Halper was known to have supplied items to Slater auctions and a photograph from the 1995 National Sports Collectors convention at St. Louis shows Halper and Slater meeting at the Political Gallery booth.  The current eBay seller in Indiana says he acquired the Reach cabinet “15 years or so ago at the National Sports Collectors convention.”

Halper, who died in 2005, has been documented as having owned and sold more stolen materials from the NYPL collection than any other source.  The 1999 auction of his collection at Sotheby’s included a myriad of documents and photographs confirmed as missing items from the NYPL’s Spalding Collection and the Boston Public Library’s McGreevy Collection.  

Barry Halper and Tom Slater are photographed at the Political Gallery booth by Carlton Hendricks at the 1995 National Sports Collectors convention in St. Louis.(Photo by Carlton Hendricks, SportsAntiques.com)

Both the FBI and the NYPL have been informed of the eBay sale of the missing Reach cabinet.  The Federal investigation into the NYPL thefts has dragged on for over two years.  Special Agent Jim Margolin of the New York FBI’s press office did not return calls for comment.

Jimmy Leiderman feels strongly about the recovery of the NYPL treasures that have been missing in action for decades.  Said Leiderman, “I think the NYPL has a moral obligation to investigate and return this historical piece of baseball history to their archives.”

As of the publishing of this article, the Reach cabinet has three more days of bidding left and 6 bids on the card at $107.50

UPDATE (Wed. Aug 31): Since it was revealed in our report yesterday that the Al Reach cabinet being offered on eBay is the missing photo stolen from the New York Public Library, 13 bids have been placed on the photo with eBay seller “earlierera.”  Haulsofshame.com has left a voicemail for “earlierera,” but we have not received a response.

UPDATE (Wed. Aug. 31 9:15PM):  It appears that the FBI has become involved with the eBay sale of the rare Al Reach cabinet photo from the New York Public Library’s Spalding Collection.  The seller, “earlierera” posted this message after 32 bids had been placed on the item:

We have ended the auction early for the following reason: There have been questions raised relating to title regarding this item. In response, we have gone to the trouble to contact the FBI to request their help in verifying that there is no title claim to this item by the NYPL or any other institution. Per our request, they are allowing us to send the cabinet card to them to examine. We anticipate that they will verify for us that there is absolutely NO claim of ownership by the NYPL and no title issue with this item. If that is the case, we will eagerly run this auction again after this is verified and the card is returned. They have told us that this may take a couple of weeks. To all bidders: we took this action to protect you, Ebay’s valued bidders.  Thank you for your understanding and we hope to have this up again very soon.

Regards, earlierera


By Peter J. Nash

Aug. 22, 2011

This photo of Cap Anson was once part of the NYPL's collection as documented in this cropped 1920s photographic print.

 

“Cap” Anson is wanted by the FBI. No, not for hurling racial epithets at “Fleet” Walker or as a witness to an unsolved, racially motivated, 19th century hate crime.  The Feds are pursuing “Cap” because he’s been stolen from the New York Public Library’s famous A. G. Spalding Collection and he’s travelling with a problematic “Letter of Authenticity.” 

 A cabinet card portrait of the Hall of Famer, Adrian C. Anson, produced by Chicago’s Stevens Studios in 1888, was originally donated to the library by the widow of magnate Albert G. Spalding in 1921, and was captured on film for a 1929 book series called the Pageant of America: The Annals of American Sport. The penciled in crop marks are visible on a 1920s silver-gelatin print (pictured, left), which is still part of the NYPL’s collection.

The original Anson photo was stolen from the NYPL sometime in the 1970s and afterwards was possessed by collector Barry Halper and located at his home in Livingston, NJ.  Halper sold the cabinet photo around the time he liquidated his collection at Sotheby’s in 1999 and the cabinet has been offered for sale by several hobby dealers since that time. (The Anson cabinet appears as number 90 on the Haulsofshame.comHalper Hot 100 List“.)

The last public appearance made by the missing Anson photo was in a 2004 ”Letter of Authenticity” written by authenticator Mike Gutierrez for his own authentication company (MGA).  The cabinet photo was later offered as a Anson autograph by Sports Cards Plus. In the letter Gutierrez states that the inscription, “A. C. Anson, Chicago” found on the cabinet’s reverse, was written in the hand of the Hall of Famer who collected over 3,000 hits during his 19th-century career.  Gutierrez wrote, “I believe that Cap Anson signed this cabinet card in his own handwriting.”
The Anson photo appears on the LOA still bearing the exact same ink inscription on the lower right hand corner of the original.  That same ink inscription also appears on the NYPL’s silver gelatin print from 1929.  Sources indicate the photo was returned to Sports Cards Plus under the suspicion that it had been stolen from the NYPL collection.

This Letter of Authenticity written by Mike Gutierrez features a Cap Anson cabinet photo that was stolen from the NYPL. The letter states the card bears the authentic signature of Anson when it is nothing more than a period ink identification of Anson.

  
  
The Anson cabinet does not appear on the library’s “Missing List,” which was compiled in 1987 when an inventory of the Spalding photo collection was documented for the first time since 1922.  Another Anson cabinet noted as “Anson, Cap Chicago (New York, Falk),” is on the list, but the Stevens cabinet appears to have been mistakenly omitted by the NYPL.  The same Stevens photo is credited to the Spalding Collection in the 1929 book from the Pageant of America series.  The credit for the Anson photo in the book reads: “….from a photograph in the Spalding Collection at the New York Public Library.” 

The NYPL's missing "Cap" Anson photo by Stevens Studios was credited to the Spalding Collection in the 1929 book, Pagaent of America: The Annals of American Sport.

The Anson cabinet  once had the rectangular NYPL stamp featured on its reverse, however, that mark has been erased or bleached out.  Not only is the rare cabinet photo contraband, it was also never signed by “Cap” Anson.  The period ink inscription on the reverse is an  identification of Anson, not his actual signature.  The proof of this appears on other Stevens cabinets that are still part of the Spalding Collection.

Autograph expert Ron Keurajian also confirmed for us that the Stevens cabinet photo was not signed by Anson.  “In my opinion, the inscription on the back of that card is not in the hand of Cap Anson, it is merely an identification for filing purposes” said Keurajian.

These three photos were stolen from the NYPL and recovered by the FBI. They bear the same handwritten identifications as the missing Anson photo. Unlike the Anson cabinet, all three still retain their original NYPL ownership stamps. They also feature the NYPL storage box number in the upper left hand corner.

The Anson cabinet produced by the Stevens Studios was similar to several other NYPL cabinet photos featuring Buck Ewing, Mike Tiernan and Roger Connor.  Those three photos had also been stolen from the library, but have since been recovered by the FBI and returned to the Fifth Avenue Branch.  The three photos currently appear on the NYPL’s website as part of its digital collection. 

Like the Anson cabinet, the other Stevens cabinets in the NYPL collection feature period identifications in the same hand. The cabinet of New York Giant slugger Roger Connor includes a period ink identification, not his signature.

Each of those cards feature period ink identifications on their reverse in the same handwriting that appears on the missing Anson cabinet photo.

This is an authentic signature of Adrian C. "Cap" Anson signed during his days as manager of the Chicago National League Baseball Club.

 
The missing Anson photograph has changed hands several times since it was stolen from the NYPL decades ago.  The earliest known owner of the stolen item was Barry Halper and after Halper’s Sotheby’s auction in 1999, the same cabinet was offered along with another stolen cabinet photo of Harry Wright.  The Wright photo was offered at auction by Lew Lipset in April of 2005 and was later recovered by the FBI, but somehow the Anson cabinet has eluded the Feds.  When the Wright cabinet was auctioned by Lipset it was offered as an autographed photo of Harry Wright and was also “accompanied by a Mike Gutierrez COA.”  However, like the  Anson cabinet, that photo was not signed by HarryWright either.  The card bears a period identification of Wright in pencil, not his signature.  

The cabinet card last appeared in an LOA written by Mike Gutierrez in 2004. Gutierrez claimed the card had a genuine autograph on the reverse. The number "9" on the reverse indicated it was stored in "Box 9" of the NYPL's Spalding Collection.

We contacted Mike Gutierrez, who is currently employed by Heritage Auction Galleries in Dallas, Texas, to ask who submitted the photo to him for authentication and if he knows the current whereabouts of the Anson cabinet.

Through Heritage’s Director of Sports Auctions, Chris Ivy, Gutierrez said, “He does not recall” who submitted the photo to him in 2004. 

Ivy did not respond to questions asking if Gutierrez still believed the card was actually signed by Anson.

This is not the first time Gutierrez’ name has been linked to items stolen from institutional collections.  Ex-Hall of Fame employee Bill Deane and another ex-Hall official have confirmed that in the 1980s Gutierrez was a suspect in an FBI investigation into thefts from the National Baseball Library in Cooperstown.  The ex-Hall official also confirmed that Gutierrez’ name appeared on a list maintained by the library of individuals banned from entering or researching at the Cooperstown facility.

This Harry Wright photo was stolen from the NYPL and certified by Mike Gutierrez as an authentic Harry Wright signature. The inscription is a period identification, not a signature.

Gutierrez is currently listed as one of the authenticators for James Spence Authentication (JSA) specializing in vintage baseball autographs.  Gutierrez is also an appraiser for the PBS program, Antiques Roadshow.

We contacted David Kohler of Sports Cards Plus Auctions (SCP) and asked if he could confirm that he offered the Anson cabinet for sale and whether it was returned to him under suspicion of being a stolen item.

Additionally, we asked Kohler where he acquired the Anson cabinet and why the photo has never been returned to its rightful owner, the New York Public Library?

Kohler did not respond to our requests.

 
If anyone knows the current whereabouts of this “Cap” Anson cabinet card, please contact: tips@haulsofshame.com or the New York office of the FBI at: ny1@ic.fbi.gov


By Peter J. Nash

Aug. 15, 2011

This 1942 TSN article claims "Shoeless" Joe gave "Black Betsy" away to the former Mayor of Greenville, SC.

Heritage Auction Galleries just sold what they claim is “Shoeless” Joe Jackson’s storied “Black Betsy” bat for $537,750.  The same bat sold at auction several years ago for just as much and has an impressive pedigree that Heritage claims traces back to the last will and testament of Katie Jackson, “Shoeless” Joe’s widow.

However, controversy over the bat  has been brewing in the hobby for years as veteran collectors and authenticators have questioned whether the Heritage “Betsy” could have been used by Jackson during his major league career, as Heritage and PSA/DNA have claimed.

A collector named Jim Johnson doesn’t believe the bat is the original “Betsy” and has started his own blog called “White Betsy” to state his case.  Johnson’s opinion is that the Heritage bat could not have been used by Jackson in MLB games and that, “ the Erwin Bat is a Spalding store model used while Jackson was barnstorming in the 1930s, when he was older and needed a shorter and lighter bat with a thin handle.”

Heritage cataloger and consignment director, Jonathan Scheier, responded to Johnson saying, “We all know that PSA/DNA doesn’t throw around GU 10 grades without good reason. Any smart collector knows that a little skepticism is a good thing, but this is evidence even the OJ and Casey Anthony jurors couldn’t ignore.”

While the bat sold by Heritage once passed into the possession of Jackson relative, Lester Irwin, and is accompanied by evidence suggesting that Jackson used the same bat during his barnstorming days, the claims that it was used in Jackson’s days playing for Cleveland and Chicago will have to be examined more closely as the result of a report written by Carter ”Scoop” Latimer for the cover-story of The Sporting News in 1942.  In his report, Latimer describes how a small group of local kids appeared at Jackson’s home to present him with a gift:

“The treasured gift, which the kiddies bought with pennies saved was a replica of “Black Betsy,” the ebony-colored, hand-turned hickory stick which Joe used for 13 years.  The original bat reposes in the treasure chest of one of South Carolina’s first families.  It was given to the late Mayor John McHardy Mauldin of Greenville when “Shoeless” Joe and baseball parted company.”

The published statement writen by Latimer, a Jackson friend and sports editor of the Greenville News, no doubt, adds to the intrigue and mystery surrounding the controversial “Black Betsy” bat.

Mike Nola, of BlackBetsy.com, told us:  The one thing we  DO know….that is…he had it in 1923….used it in 1924 and 1925…..it surfaces again in photos in July of 1932 (2 known shots of  him holding it), it shows up again in the summer of 1949 when Furman Bisher was in Greenville interviewing Joe for the Sport Magazine article.  Furman even held it and Joe is photographed swinging it.  Furman told me he remembered it being “crooked” back then.   The one  thing we know for sure….the bat was special to him for some reason….it was the only bat in his possession (except for the store  model Black Betsy decal bat the kids gave him on his birthday) when he died.   It must have been special to Katie as well…for she kept it  another 8 years until she died….she could have easily given it to Lester or any other family member before that time.   The fact is,  we’ll probably never know for sure if it was the original Black Betsy, I tend to believe it was….at least the one made by Charlie Ferguson.

What we can say for sure is that the Baseball Hall of Fame’s “Black Betsy,” which was acquired from Barry Halper in the multi-million dollar purchase of select items from his now infamous collection, is NOT the genuine article.   Halper tells Billy Martin all about “Betsy” in this video clip from the movie Halper created to promote his collection in 1989:

While Halper’s alleged “Black Betsy” was displayed in the Hall of Fame’s former ”Halper Gallery“, the Albany Times-Union reported:

“The Hall’s Halper mother lode includes….”Black Betsy” the one and only bat “Shoeless” Joe Jackson used during his 13 year Major League career.”

Experts and knowledgeable collectors agree that Halper’s entry in the ”Black Betsy” sweepstakes is nothing more than a Spalding store model bat.  It’s likely an expensive fraud that was coupled with the counterfeit 1919 White Sox jersey that Halper sold to MLB for donation to the Hall of Fame in 1999.  Those items, as well as Halper’s alleged Jackson fielders mitt and a gold pocket-watch allegedly presented to Jackson for winning the AL Pennant in 1919, have a problematic provenance.  Halper said he purchased all of the items from Katie Jackson in Greenville, South Carolina, in the 1950s, but the evidence showing that the 1919 jersey was bogus has cast enormous doubt on Halper’s other Jackson items.  In addition, Halper told The Sporting News in 1985 that he purchased the 1919 jersey in the 1980s from Jackson relatives through the mail.

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

After reports were published in 2010 by Haulsofshame.com, officials at the Hall of Fame removed Jackson’s alleged glove from their “Black Sox” themed exhibit case on the museum’s second floor.  Halper’s phony 1919 jersey and his dubious “Black Betsy” was displayed in the Hall’s Halper Gallery from 1999 through 2002.  The Halper Gallery is no longer located in the museum and the plaque honoring Halper and his collection have been removed.


By Peter J. Nash

August 2, 2011

The HOF purchased their 1908 Cy Young jersey from Barry Halper.

 

Heritage Auction Galleries of Dallas, Texas, is offering an amazing baseball relic in its August 4th sale at the National Sports Collectors Convention in Chicago. It is the legendary Cy Young’s 1908 Boston Red Sox road uniform. Accompanied by a letter of authenticity from MEARS and a fabric examination report from the Textile Conservation Workshop in South Salem, New York, it also features a letter of provenance from the deceased director of the Cy Young Museum in Young’s hometown in Newcomerstown, Ohio. When the uniform was first sold by the museum back in 2007, its President, Barbara Scott, stated that the uniform was given to a friend of Young’s in the 1940s and was donated to the museum a short time thereafter. The uniform was reportedly displayed at the Young Museum for decades.  A replica of the rare jersey being sold, crafted by a local seamstress, is now displayed in the local McDonald’s in Young’s hometown.

In its lot description and accompanying video, Heritage mentions the existence of another 1908 Cy Young Red Sox jersey that is part of the collection at the National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum in Cooperstown. That jersey was not donated by Young, rather it was acquired as part of the Hall’s 1998 purchase of $7.5 million worth of materials from the Barry Halper Collection.  In a Feb. 28, 1937 letter to Alexander Cleland, of the Hall of Fame, Young spoke of items he would actually donate to Cooperstown:  “A Base Ball that I used in Washington, D. C. , 1908, when I won my 500th game….also my last uniform while with the Boston Braves 1911.”

Halper’s 1908 Young  jersey was featured in the 1999 to 2001 exhibition in the Hall’s former Barry Halper Gallery and was displayed until 2007 in the Cy Young display case on the museum’s second floor. In 2008, the jersey hit the road as part of the “Baseball as America” traveling exhibition that made its last stop in Boston at the Museum of Science. Young’s alleged 1908 jersey appeared with other Boston baseball treasures including Curt Schilling’s famous “bloody sock” from the 2004 World Series.

But since the Hall of Fame admitted in October of 2010 to the New York Post that the alleged 1919 “Shoeless” Joe Jackson jersey they purchased from Barry Halper was a fake and also admitting to the Post returning Mickey Mantle’s alleged rookie jersey, many other Halper items have been placed under close scrutiny as suspect counterfeits. The authenticity of the Hall’s 1908 Cy Young  jersey has now come into question with the appearance of the 1908 road jersey featured in Heritage’s upcoming auction.

Many of the Halper fakes, including the Joe Jackson jersey, were authentic period garments that featured fraudulent logos and “chain-stitched” names of Hall of Fame players and infamous stars. The controversy over the Hall of Fame’s example revolves around the “Young” name embroidered into the garment. The jersey itself appears, by all means, to be an authentic 1908 Red Sox  jersey made by Wright & Ditson, but was it Cy Young’s?  By removing the thread bearing a utility players name in the collar, and replacing it with a chain-stitched Hall of Famer’s name, a jersey once valued at $10,000 could quickly soar to $1 million.  Halper was known to have acquired several authentic jerseys of other Red Sox non-Hall of Famers and the 1999 Sotheby’s sale included an authentic 1910 Red Sox jersey of manager Fred Lake, who also managed the team in 1908.

The 1908 jersey being sold by Heritage appears to have the original, period "chain-stitched" name of Young beneath the original manufacturers tag. The Hall of Fame has never publicly displayed the embroidered name on their alleged 1908 home jersey attributed to Young. (Courtesy Heritage Auction Galleries)

In the 1999 sale of his collection at Sotheby’s Halper also sold another rare Boston garment that was purported to be pitcher Eddie Cicotte’s“1912 Red Sox Road Jersey,” featuring the name “Cicotte” chain-stitched into the garment. The jersey sold for over $12,000 in 1999 and was resold at Grey Flannel Auctions in 2001. But when it was consigned to and sold by MastroNet in 2004, it was determined that the jersey was actually an authentic Horace Partridge jersey style worn by the Red Sox from 1915 to 1918, not 1912, thus making it impossible to be Cicotte’s.  Cicotte was traded to Chicago in 1913. Auction officials determined that the threads of the “chain-stitched” Cicotte name were not from the 1910-20 period and had been added fraudulently at a later date. The jersey sold for over $20,000 as a generic, but authentic, “1915-18 Boston Red Sox Road Jersey.”

Halper's counterfeit 1912 Eddie Cicotte jersey was sold at Sotheby's in 1999 and at Grey Flannel in 2001 (above). By the time it was sold by MastroNet in 2004, it was determined that the "Cicotte" chain-stitched name was fraudulent and was removed. The auction house sold it as an authentic "1915-18 Red Sox Road Jersey."

The Halper Collection also included another forged jersey of Cy Young alleged by Halper to have been worn by the pitcher in 1903. The jersey was featured in a 1985 Sporting News feature written by Bill Madden about Halper’s uniform collection, but the garment never passed authentication to make it into the 1999 Sotheby’s sale.  

Halper’s only publicly displayed Young jersey was his bogus 1903 example.  We could find no evidence of Halper claiming to own Young’s 1908 jersey before the time of the Hall of Fame transaction.

The 1908 Cy Young home uniform currently in the Hall of Fame’s collection has been on public display for over a decade, but the “chain-stitched” Young name in the collar has never been revealed, always obscured by the neck of a mannequin that the jersey rests upon.

If the Hall of Fame’s Young jersey is authentic, it’s chain-stitched name under the Wright & Ditson label should have the same placement and construction as the name featured on the Heritage road jersey.  (The Hall of Fame collection includes another genuine 1908 Red Sox road jersey that Hall curators could have compared Halper’s jersey to for authentication purposes.)

Chris Ivy of Heritage Auction Galleries confirmed that the auction house had contacted the Hall of Fame in the course of  conducting their own due diligence to determine the authenticity of the offered 1908 jersey.  However, officials at the Hall of Fame did not furnish any images of their garment and its chain-stitched area.  On July 13th Ivy told us, “We attempted to get images and additional information regarding the Cy Young uniform in the Hall of Fame, however they are unable to provide it to us prior to the auction. They have been responsive to previous research requests and I trust that they will be responsive to this request as soon as they are able.”

As of Induction Day on July 24th, the Cy Young diplay case on the second floor of the museum featured an empty space where the alleged 1908 Red Sox jersey was once displayed.

Haulsofshame.com also contacted Hall spokesman Brad Horn and President Jeff Idelson to inform the museum of the authenticity concerns regarding their jersey and requesting an image of the chain-stitched Young name. Both Horn and Idelson did not respond to multiple inquiries via phone and email.

The Hall’s Young jersey has not returned to its former display case in the museum’s second floor Cy Young display since it returned from the 2008 Baseball as America traveling exhibition. Its last public appearance was in a photograph featured in the Hall’s 2010 Induction Yearbook.  As of Induction Day on July 24th, the Cy Young display case was devoid of the Boston jersey.  One of Young’s 19th century Cleveland jerseys occupied that space recently but has since been moved to the Hall’s new “One for the Books” exhibition.  The empty space has not been filled by the return of Halper’s 1908 Sox jersey. 

Hall officials determined its Joe Jackson jersey was fraudulent after a report was published by Haulsofshame.com in August of 2010 and a textile expert analyzed the materials used to construct Barry Halper’s former million-dollar treasure. Halper claimed to have purchased the jersey from Jackson’s widow in the 1950s, but the Hall’s in-house investigation determined the garment incorporated materials that hadn’t come into existence until the 1940s.  In 1985 Halper also gave a conflicting acquisition story to The Sporting News claiming that the same Jackson jersey was a “recent acquisition” purchased from Jackson relatives via cash in the mail.

The HOF's 1908 Young jersey was displayed in the Cy Young exhibit through 2007 and then became part of the "Baseball as America" touring exhibition in 2008.

The Hall of Fame’s refusal to publicly reveal an image of the chain-stitched name on their Halper jersey has fueled speculation and allegations that they have another big-ticket counterfeit on their hands.

A side by side comparison of the Heritage and Hall of Fame jerseys would go a long way to determining the authenticity of Halper’s alleged treasure.

Uniform expert and authenticator Dave Grob says, “While I have yet to see the Heritage jersey in person and was not part of the MEARS evaluation, I feel there are a number of aspects that bode well for the uniform.  Let’s begin with provenance…not just a story but a related series of events and facts that appear both reasonable and verifiable when viewed holistically.  I also found the report provided by the Textile Conservation Workshop to be very compelling with respect to making the case for the materials used as being period appropriate.  They style of the Wright & Ditson manufacturers’ tag is also consistent with other tags I have seen in Boston Red Sox garments attributed to the period of 1907-1912.  I was especially interested in the tagging based on a previous evaluation of a Jimmy Collins Boston Americans (Red Sox) jersey that originated from the Halper collection and found to be problematic.  That tag in the Collins jersey did not appear to be period appropriate and also showed signs that it had been added to the jersey post-manufacturing.  As for the Heritage Cy Young jersey,  I have not seen anything about this jersey to suggest to me it is anything but what it is offered as being”. 

1908 was the first year the Boston Americans became known as the “Red Sox” and the team’s 1908 uniforms were a one-year style which featured a large red sock with the letters B-O-S-T-O-N embroidered on. Surviving period photographs of Cy Young wearing his 1908 home Red Sox jersey were examined by Dave Grob who uncovered additional potential problems with the Hall of Fame’s jersey. Grob says the contours of the Red Sox logo on Young’s chest differs from the Hall’s example.

  Says Grob, “Based on the contours exhibited by the logos, it appears that Young is wearing two different home jerseys in the two period photos. The Hall’s jersey also shows different contours and suggests that it is neither of the garments Young is wearing in the period photographs. This means for the Halper Young  jersey to be authentic and without alterations or restoration, Young would have had to have been issued three home uniforms for 1908”.

Expert Dave Grob believes the period photos from 1908 show Young in two home uniforms that feature emblems with contours that differ from the HOF's example. (Courtesy Dave Grob)

Grob went on to explain further, “Remember this is a first year/one-year style uniform, so it is impossible that there are other versions carried over from the 1907 season. Photos of Young in this style of uniform can’t be from 1909 since he was traded to Cleveland on 16 February 1909 for Charlie Chech, Jack Ryan, and some cash. For additional emphasis and clarification Grob also noted that “ I have found nothing in my years of research to even remotely suggest a player being provided three home or three road uniforms.”

 To help put this in context, consider the request by the Base Ball Players Fraternity from Baseball Magazine, January 1914:

 Eighth: Every club shall furnish each player with two complete uniforms, exclusive of shoes. The player shall make a deposit of $30 therefore, which shall be returned to him at the end of the season or the termination of his contract, upon the surrender of the uniforms by him to the club. The words “complete uniforms” shall be construed to mean two pairs of trousers, two shirts, two belts, two caps, stockings as required, and a coat or sweater.

 The response to this request, also seen in Baseball Magazine in March of 1914 reads:

 The players were successful in having most of their requests granted. This meant more for the Commission than giving away in principle, for it means that much money will have to be spent to live tip to their part of the agreement. It may be seen how much it will cost the magnates when it is remembered that in such a small matter as that of uniforms the magnates agreed to furnish two uniforms a season to the ball players free of charge. As there are 20 to 25 players on a team, one can figure what it will cost them at $15 a suit. Forty suits is about the smallest number that any club can squeeze along with, which means $600. Every club has for its players a home suit and a road uniform. It was brought out that only the National League had failed to buy the uniforms for the players. This will mean a saving of at least $30 for each player in the National League a season.

Grob told us, “ I consider this pricing information to be fairly accurate because the 1913 Spalding uniform catalog lists the price for a complete outfit of professional quality (Grade O) to be $15.00 or $12.50 when ordering for a complete team. Just so we are clear, I have never taken this to mean two home and two roads, but two uniforms (presumed to a home and a road). This overall costing above seems to confirm this.”

 Grob concluded, “My point in all of this is that if players were pushing hard to get at least one home and one road uniform, then the idea of three homes or three roads just doesn’t seem to enter into the world of the probable or likely.”

  Grob also believes that the Red Sox logos affixed to the 1908 uniforms were cut from the same template and constructed by hand.  “Each one should appear to be visibly different and unique,” says Grob.

Heritage estimates the value of their Young jersey at “$350,000 and up.”  The auction house describes the Red Sox duds as “ A marvelously preserved and flawlessly provenanced example of his game worn uniform, the only specimen existing in private hands, this is unquestionably the most significant Cy Young relic available. One might even go so far as to declare this offering the most important collector-owned baseball uniform in existence today, bar none.”  

If authentic, the Baseball Hall of Fame’s Young  jersey would surpass the Heritage example, since it still features its original sock logo and is in superior condition.

Hall of Fame officials have also not revealed whether the Young jersey has already been examined by the same textile analysis outfit that determined Halper’s Joe Jackson jersey was bogus.

While Hall of Fame spokesman Brad Horn did not respond to several inquiries made by Haulsofshame.com he did respond to blogger (and Spink award winner) Murray Chass when asked about how many items from the original Halper purchase had been rejected?

Chass wrote:

Asked if the Hall had rejected items from Halper’s collection, Brad Horn, senior director of communications at the Hall, said in a telephone interview, “In one instance we have addressed an item from that collection. It was in the Fall of 2010. Joe Jackson’s jersey showed some inconsistency with the timing so we removed it from display.”

 When Chass asked Horn if the Hall rejected other Halper items, Horn told him, “Jackson is the only item we reviewed and made a conclusion.”

Contrary to what he told Chass last week, Horn confirmed to a reporter from the New York Post, in the Fall of 2010, that the Hall of Fame had rejected and sent back to Halper his alleged Mickey Mantle 1951 rookie jersey bearing the number “6.”  It appears that Horn also neglected to divulge to Chass that the Hall removed “Shoeless” Joe Jackson’s glove from its “Black Sox” exhibit case in October of 2010 after the Jackson jersey was exposed as a fraud.  The glove had been publicly displayed for years.  Today, the Hall’s Black Sox display case is nearly empty without the bogus Jackson glove and jersey.  

Barry Halper claimed that he made his ”Shoeless” Joe acquisitions in the 1950s directly from Jackson’s widow, including the counterfeit Jackson jersey, the glove, Jackson’s famous “Black Betsy” bat and a gold pocket watch allegedly presented for winning the AL pennant in 1919.  Experts agree that Halper’s alleged Jackson bat is nothing more that a store model and considering the evidence exposing the Jackson jersey as a forgery, every item the Hall purchased from Halper related to Jackson is likely bogus.  There is no evidence whatsoever that suggests any of the items are linked to Jackson, other than Halper’s dubious and conflicting stories.  (Ironically, in this same August 4th auction Heritage is offering another bat alleged to have been Joe Jackson’s “Black Betsy,” which was reported to have been willed to a Jackson relative by his widow.)

All of Halper’s Joe Jackson items appeared with the 1908 Cy Young jersey in the Hall’s “Memories of a Lifetime” exhibition in the Barry Halper Gallery from 1999 to 2001.  The Hall of Fame has not issued any public statement explaining why the Halper Gallery no longer exists in its museum.

With their past history of holding out counterfeit artifacts as authentic baseball treasures to their paying customers, the Hall of Fame has a responsibility to provide access to artifacts for researchers and to prove that their Cy Young jersey is the real deal, like the one being offered by Heritage.

In the three week period preceding the Heritage sale on August 4th, the Baseball Hall of Fame did not provide Chris Ivy with an image of the chain-stitched “Young” on their jersey.  As of today, they still have not fulfilled that request.

Heritage's 1908 Young road uniform is missing the original Red Sox emblem, which the auction house claims was removed by Young so he could wear the jersey in local sandlot games after he retired from the big leagues.

(UPDATE: The Heritage Cy Young 1908 road jersey sold for $657,250.)