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Staff Report  Oct. 18, 2010

Hall of Famer George "Babe" Brett models Halper's fake Babe Ruth rookie jersey on the pages of The Sporting News in 1985. (Photo by Rich Pilling, The Sporting News)


With the recent confirmation by the Baseball Hall of Fame that their 1919 “Shoeless Joe” Jackson jersey, purchased from deceased collector and Yankee partner, Barry Halper, is a forgery, presents our “Top Ten Fakes and Frauds” from the Halper Collection:

1. Babe Ruth’s 1914 Rookie Red Sox Jersey-Halper’s “million dollar” pride and joy was featured in publications ranging from The Sporting News to Connoisseur Magazine and in a documentary film about the Halper Collection.  The jersey was manufactured by Spalding and Halper said he acquired it from the family of ex-Red Sox player George Whiteman.  Problem is, Red Sox uniforms of that era were made only by Wright & Ditson and Horace Partridge & Co.  (Halper also had a bogus 1920 autographed Babe Ruth Yankee uniform, which was featured in Smithsonian Magazine in 1987.  Halper told TSN he purchased that Ruth jersey from ex-Dodger Ollie O’Mara.)

2. “Shoeless Joe” Jackson’s 1919 Black Sox  Jersey-Part of a $7 million dollar donation to the Hall of Fame.  According to statements made by the HOF to the NY Post and Chicago Sun Times, the jersey’s ”S-o-x” logo was made with dye not created until the 1940’s (and stitched with polyester thread that didn’t exist before 1953).  In addition, Halper’s jersey was made by Spalding, when White Sox uniforms of that era were manufactured by Wilson.  In 1985, in The Sporting News, Halper stated the Jackson jersey was a “recent purchase” made in a cash deal through the mails with Jackson relatives but, by 1999, Halper claimed he’d purchased the jersey in the 1950s from Jackson’s widow at her home in Greenville, S.C.

Ex-Yankee Jeff Torborg models Halper's fake Joe Jackson jersey in The Sporting News of 1985. In 1985, Halper told TSN it was a "recent purchase" from Jackson relatives, but when he sold the garment to MLB in 1998, he said he purchased it from Jackson's widow in the 1950s.(Photo by Rich Pilling, The Sporting News)

3. Ty Cobb’s shotgun alleged to have been used to kill his father- A recent SABR research paper by Ron Cobb describes an extensive examination of court documents  1905, including the original Coroner’s report of the death of Cobb’s father.  The report stated Cobb’s father was killed by two shots from a pistol, and thus proved that Cobb’s biographer Al Stump fabricated the shotgun story, and likely had fabricated the infamous shotgun as well.  Sources indicate that an ex-NY Yankee player may now own the shotgun.

In a 1995 feature article on Barry Halper, Sports Illustrated presented Halper's shotgun as the one used to kill Cobb's father. SI noted that Halper acquired most of his "Cobbabilia" from Al Stump.(Sports Illustrated, 1995, "The Sultan of Swap")

4.Cy Young’s Glove-Sold for over $70,000 to a Major League pitcher at Sotheby’s 1999 Halper auction.  The glove was billed as Cy’s own (Sotheby’s said: “Barry Halper obtained the glove directly from the Young estate.”), but was returned to the auction house after it was determined it was a children’s model glove.

Halper's Cy Young glove sold for over $70,000 at Sotheby's, but was returned by the Major League pitcher who purchased it because it was found to be a child's glove, not a Cy Young gamer.

5. Ty Cobb’s Personal Diary from 1946-Late Tiger broadcaster Ernie Harwell broke a story in 2009 revealing that the FBI had determined that Halper’s Cobb diary was a forgery.  The diary was purchased from Halper by the Hall of Fame with funds donated by MLB, but further investigation in 2010 by researcher Ron Cobb and Cobb autograph expert Ron Keurajian, determined the diary was forged by Cobb’s biographer Al Stump.  SABR’s Cobb also concluded, based on extensive interviews with those who assisted in the sale of Stump’s collection in the mid-1980s, that Halper was told of the authenticity issues with Stump’s Cobb collection years before he sold the diary to the HOF.

Halper's Cobb diary was forged by sports writer Al Stump and was displayed in the Hall of Fame's Barry Halper Gallery from 1999-2000. SABR's Ron Cobb recently determined that Halper knew of the authenticity issues with Stump's items years before he sold the diary to MLB.

6. Mickey Mantle’s “Circa 1960″ Game Worn Glove- Purchased by Billy Crystal at Sotheby’s for $239,000.  Alleged to have been used by Mantle in 1960, but glove expert Dennis Eskin and Rawlings senior glove designer Bob Clevenhagen determined the glove was,  ”Made no earlier than 1964 and most likely used in 1966.”  Crystal was at the HOF a few days before the revelations about Halper’s fake Joe Jackson jersey were reported in the NY Post.  Crystal was donating items used in his HBO film “61,” and its unclear whether Crystal was aware of the Halper controversy at the time of his visit to the Cooperstown.

Halper's "Circa 1960" Mickey Mantle glove appeared on the cover of the Sotheby's catalogue in 1999. Billy Crystal purchased it for $239,000, but glove experts determined the glove was made by Rawlings post-1964.

7.  Reggie Jackson’s 1967 Kansas City A’s Rookie Jersey-Halper sold this jersey for over $30,000 at Sotheby’s in 1999 along with a letter of authenticity from Reggie himself.  The jersey bore the number “9″ but, unfortunately for the winning bidder, its well known that Reggie wore number “31″ during his entire rookie season.  Jackson’s own letter authenticating the bogus jersey illustrates best that Halper’s items sold with player testimonials should not be accepted on face value.  

Somehow Halper even fooled "Mr. October" into writing a letter of authenticity for his alleged 1967 "Rookie Jersey" with the wrong number on it. The jersey sold for over $30,000.

8. “Iron Man” McGinnity letter recounting the Famous “Fred Merkle Boner” of 1908-Included in Halper’s 1999 Sotheby’s auction as Lot #25, but removed from the sale after outcries from autograph experts who deemed the letter a forgery.  Upon recent examination, hobby veteran Ron Keurajian called the letter a forgery pointing out, “the handwriting’s deviation from known authentic exemplars.”The Halper auction also included a c.1905 jersey allegedly worn by McGinnity while he played for the NY Giants.  Industry experts questioned the jersey’s authenticity, but  Sotheby’s still sold the jersey for $31,050.

Halper's "Iron Man" McGinnity letter got pulled from the 1999 Sotheby's auction as experts deemed it a forgery.

9. The Dagger Ty Cobb (allegedly) Used to Stab a Man in 1912 with a letter of authenticity from Cobb himself- Turns out the dagger, the story and the letter of authenticity were all fakes also fabricated by Cobb’s biographer Al Stump.  In a 1996 interview for The George Michael Sports Machine, Halper told his story about the bogus Cobb knife and his acquisition from Stump. At the time Halper filmed this segment, he was well aware of the authenticity issues related to Stump’s Cobb collection.

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10. Photograph of  Hall of Famer and Inventor of the Curveball, “Candy” Cummings-Sold as part of Lot # 202 in Halper’s 1999 auction at Sotheby’s, the man in the photo sold bore no resemblance whatsoever to the famous pitcher, Cummings. (If you think you may know of other fake or fraudulent items from the Halper Collection, drop us a line at:

Halper sold a CDV photo of an unknown man, representing that he was Hall of Famer "Candy" Cummings. The photo (left) sold with a scorecard for over $2,500 in the 1999 Sotheby's sale. A real photo of Cummings, the alleged inventor of the "Curve Ball," appears to the right.


  1. Even Jeff Torborg looked more like the real Cummings.
    That CDV was a JOKE… $2500 down the drain.
    Keep up the good work Peter!

    Comment by J — October 18, 2010 @ 11:03 am

  2. I’m relatively new to your site. Do you have a problem with Halper specifically or do you “call out” out collectors with questionable memorabilia?

    Comment by Ron — October 18, 2010 @ 11:25 am

  3. I an still waiting to see if Ty Cobb’s false teeth were really the ones auctioned off.

    Tom Zocco

    Comment by Tom Zocco — October 18, 2010 @ 1:24 pm

  4. I’m betting that Cobb’s choppers will some day make it into this top ten.

    Comment by mike d — October 19, 2010 @ 7:30 pm

  5. where do we start with the real story of ty and al stump? I would like to know to true life story but we’ll never get it. Ty took it with him when he crossed over to the “Major Leagues” forever!

    Comment by robert scgerer — October 20, 2010 @ 2:10 pm

  6. Ron, sometimes the truth really does hurt. As much as I wanted to believe that the SOX jersey that I saw at the HOF was indeed Joe Jackson’s, I was not disappointed when I found out it was not real, I was angry. Angry at the fraud perpetrated by Barry Halper. As time goes by we will find out that many more of the items purported by Halper to be authentic will be just the opposite. What a terrible disservice to the game and its history.

    Comment by Ernest Reed — December 11, 2010 @ 8:28 am

  7. Seems like Halper and Stump were 2 massive frauds, bent on perpetuating their own evil agenda.

    Comment by Simon Foster — December 13, 2010 @ 5:33 am

  8. question jsa auth. had alot to do with the authentications for solibys auction house on barry halpers collections why is he not mentioned in all the problems i have pieces that were from the collection that were examined supposely by jsa auth. was he or not involved, thanks cassidy

    Comment by CASSIDY SCHOENLEBER — August 7, 2011 @ 11:29 pm

  9. Having always been fascinated by Halper’s collection, I’ve been folowing the reports of his fake/stolen items with much interest. It seems like each new report shocks me all over again. But one thing bothers me. Since Halper was collecting for decades, long before baseball collecting became a multi-million dollar business, what was his objective all that time? To hold on to everything for years and years, hoping for a memorabilia craze? And what about the stolen items? Surely he would have known that if those items ever reached a big public sale it could draw the attention of the law. Or maybe he was collecting as an ego trip, so he would be the guy interviewed in magazines, on TV, etc? Thoughts, anyone?

    Comment by L.W. Lee Jr. — July 17, 2012 @ 4:00 am

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