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Staff Report

May 31, 2011

 

Yesterday, baseball uniform and equipment expert and authenticator, Dave Grob, published on the MEARS website a stunning report showing evidence that the glove alleged to be Lou Gehrig’s last from the Sotheby’s 1999 Barry Halper auction was not genuine.  His analysis and research reveals that the authentic glove Gehrig used in his last game resides at the National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum in Cooperstown, NY.  Grob published the article under the title, I’m Betting on the Gehrigs

The glove sold at the Sotheby’s sale in 1999 for a reported hammer price of $387,500.  In 2006, New York Daily News reporter Michael O’Keeffe reported in an interview with actress/director, Penny Marshall, that,  “She purchased a Lou Gehrig glove at a 1999 auction for $387,500, still one of the highest prices ever paid for sports memorabilia.”  

 With Grob’s approval we present our readers his report in its entirety:

By Dave Grob

Words like first, rookie, last, final etc…have a special place in the hearts of collectors and researchers. The element of time is a powerful attraction that can lend an aura of significance to even the most rare and special of artifacts. On April 30th 1939, Lou Gehrig took the field for the final time as an active player.  He walked off the diamond into a special place in history having completed playing in his 2,130th consecutive contest; a career and life ending far too soon.   How special would it be to have in your possession Gehrig’s base mitt from that final game…his last glove?  In my mind, this would almost beyond description, but not beyond belief as it an artifact that apparently more than one person or entity has laid claim to. 

In 1999, the Barry Halper collection offered via Sothebys Auctions lot # 2141, an item simply titled “Lou Gehrig’s Last Glove”.  At the same time, the National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum in Cooperstown, New York had in their possession a mitt from the Gehrig estate also identified as being Gehrig’s last glove.  Both were attributed to being the mitt from the 30 April 1939 game.  Objectively this leaves us with only three possibilities since they both cannot be that final glove.

1.  Neither is Gehrig’s last glove.

2.  Halper had the final mitt.

3.  Gehrig kept his final glove and it was subsequently donated to the Hall of Fame.

Imagery Analysis:  Before we run off and start canvasing period images, the first question that has to be asked and answered is are there significant physical differences between these two gloves that would allow them to be distinguished from each other? If so, what are they?  In this case the answer is yes and the defining characteristics include:

-General size/contour

-Web design/construction

-Wrist and closure strap on the back

Period images suggest that Gehrig can be found with gloves displaying characteristics of both models.  This means Gehrig used various models over his career and that neither glove can be disqualified at this point, although the glove Gehrig is pictured with in October 1938 is much more consistent with that on display at the Hall of Fame than the Halper offering when the characteristics of web design/construction and wrist/closure strap on the back of the mitt are considered (PLATES A & B). This is an important distinction since the closer you get to the event in question, the likelihood that the glove pictured is the same one he used at the same relative time increases.  By this I mean it is more likely that a glove in an image from 1938 has a higher probability of being glove in question from 1939 than one contained in an image from say 1936 or 1937.  In addition, the Halper mitt can be excluded from being the one Gehrig is wearing in the photograph by the location of manufacturers’ label (PLATE C). 

 An undated image from 1938 suggests that neither of these gloves is the one Gehrig is wearing when looked at for general size/contour. (PLATE D)

Manufacturers’ Information:  Both models are identified as being Spalding products.  A portion of the model number on the Hall of Fame’s glove can be discerned.  The model # on the Halper glove was not mentioned in the description nor can it be discerned from the images provided in the catalog.  A survey of period Spalding catalogs (PLATE E) identifies what Spalding considered their “Top of the Line” or professional quality base mitts from the period of 1936-1940.  The Hall of Fame offering does appear consistent with the product featured in the 1938 Spalding catalog.  (PLATE E)

Without getting to far off track, I think a cautionary note is worthy at this time with respect to use of retail catalogs.  First of all, simply because a particular model glove does not show up in a catalog until a certain year, this does not mean the glove was not available to players before this time.  In order for a catalog to have been available for retailers at the start of a calendar year, the catalog would have to have been approved, printed and distributed.  The products in the catalog, especially new models, would have had to have been developed, tested, and approved and then produced.  All of this takes time and that is something that is commonly overlooked by collectors/researchers.

Provenance:  As I have always said, provenance cannot make any item into something it is not.  The source of the item does not make it good any more than it makes it bad. The item must physically and chronologically make sense based on the story.  In other words the provenance should be both reasonable and verifiable.  By this I mean:

-Reasonable:  Could the item have been obtained as claimed?

-Verifiable:  Does the provenance stand up under scrutiny?

Barry Halper/Sotheby’s Provenance:  According to the auction description, the glove was discarded by Gehrig after the 30 April game and given to Pete Sheehy.  Sometime after this, Sheehy gave the glove to Babe Dahlgren who in turn sold it to Halper. As dramatic as all of this sounds, it is possible or reasonable that all of these individuals were involved in this chain of events as described.  The problem comes when the provenance is subjected to scrutiny.  While it appears fairly accurate that Halper obtained the glove from Dahlgren, this is where things begin to unravel.  Dahlgren said in an interview in a June 1979 interview with the Sporting News that he obtained the glove in the spring of 1940; specifically, just as the team had come north from spring training and while Gehrig was cleaning out his locker.  Gehrig gives the glove to Sheehy, and Dahlgren got it from Sheehy.  The problem with this story is that according to an interview with Lou Gehrig on 16 April 1940, Gehrig had not seen his locker since at least January of 1940 and had not been to the clubhouse until at least after 19 April 1940.  

For the record, the Yankees played their final barnstorming game of the 1940 spring in Lynchburg VA against the Brooklyn Dodgers on 11 April 1940.  The club was back in New York for a three game exhibition series with the Dodgers from 12-14 April 1940.  The Yankees opened at home on the 19th of April 1940, and according to Gehrig, he would not have been on hand cleaning out his locker when the team came back from spring training.  While Dahlgren may have been mistaken about when the locker was cleared out, this is vastly different from the auction description that places the discarding of the glove to dates (30 April 1939 and or 2 May 1939).  Almost a year would have passed from this time to when Dahlgren obtained the glove. (PLATES F & G)

 

There is also an often overlooked fact that continues to work against the already unraveling Halper provenance.  That fact being that 30 April was not Lou’s Gehrig’s last game.  On June 12th, 1939, the New York Yankees played an exhibition game against the Kansas City Blues in Kansas City.   Gehrig was in the lineup and both hit and played the field.  Although Gehrig’s toughness was clearly his calling card, I have serious doubts that Gehrig played the game bare-handed at first base.  Thus the glove he used on 12 June 1939 would have been his last glove and not the one the Halper yarn would like us to believe was discarded on 30 April. (PLATE H)

Hall of Fame Provenance:  According to William C. Kashatus in his book “Lou Gehrig: A Biography,”  various items were donated the Hall of Fame by both Gehrig’s mother Christina and his wife Eleanor at the time of the respective deaths.  Two of these items were Lou’s Gehrig’s first and last mitts. I queried the Baseball Hall of Fame about the items donated by Christina Gehrig (Lou’s mother) when she passed away and they provided me with an inventory that includes among many other things, specific inventory entries for:

-First Glove

-Last Glove

(PLATE I)

In an interview with Lou Gehrig as recorded by John Kiernan of the New York Times on March 16th, 1941, Lou Gehrig was still in possession of his last glove at that time.  As Gehrig tells Kiernan, the glove on the shelf was the largest glove he ever used and he decided to make the switch based on the advice of Jimmy Foxx who gave Gehrig the glove.  Gehrig even goes so far as to identify it as “the last glove that I used.”  What I find very interesting is that the “Top of Line” Spalding product in circa 1938 was in fact the Jimmy Foxx model which would have born the same tri-numeral designation (222) that appears on the Hall of Fame’s Gehrig glove.  This is invaluable first hand contemporary testimony from the person who would know better than anyone else what his last glove was.  What readers should be clear on is that Foxx did not nor could have provided Gehrig with one of the gloves he used personally.  While Foxx was first basemen for the Red Sox at this time, he was also right handed.  While odd for a first baseman, it must be remembered that Jimmy Foxx began his career as a catcher. (PLATE J)

 

In reading Jonathan Eig “Luckiest Man-The Life and Death of Lou Gehrig,” I came across some interesting information.  Specifically the description of Gehrig’s last glove on page 279.  Eig mentions that Gehrig had “reinforced the webbing between the thumb and the index finger with white tape.”  This is a physical characteristic that is found on the Hall of Fames glove and not the one offered by Halper. (PLATE K)

The provenance supporting the glove at the Hall of Fame clearly lacks the consistency problems you find in abundance with the Halper glove.  In addition, the case for the Hall’s glove is largely a first person narrative from the individual most closely connected with the glove; in short, straight from the Iron Horse’s mouth.  The fact that Gehrig says he was still in possession of his last glove in March of 1941, means it could not have been discarded as claimed in the auction description nor obtained in 1940 by Dahlgren. In addition, there is also the additional thread of credibility with the tie in to Jimmy Foxx given the type/model of glove actually involved.  A visual recap/reference is offered.(PLATE L)

As I go back and assess all of these various factors, there interrelationship, and what if any impact they have on offering an assessment on who has Lou Gehrig’s last glove, I came away with:

Imagery Analysis:  Supports Hall of Fame’s Glove

Manufacturers Information:  Supports Hall of Fame’s Glove

Provenance:  Supports Hall of Fame’s Glove

Displayed at the Hall of Fame, the glove donated by Gehrig's mother is clearly designated as the glove worn in his last game on April 30, 1939.

Each person who reads this or decides to look into this topic on their own is free to form their own opinion as to what happened to the Iron Horse’s Last Glove. In my mind, reasonable questions at this point in time relate to who evaluated the Lou Gehrig glove for the Halper auction and who was responsible for the description that appeared in the catalog?  What process, research or due diligence did they perform individually or collectively with respect to their work?  Halper sold what was reputed to be Gehrig’s last glove at a price in excess of $300,000?  That’s a lot of money for a story that does not seem to bear up under close objective scrutiny. For my money, “I’m betting on the Gehrig’s.”

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

Dave Grob

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


20 Comments »

  1. Impressive analysis by Dave Grob.

    Comment by Dorothy Mills — May 31, 2011 @ 8:14 am

  2. SIMPLY UNBELIEVABLE HOW MANY HONEST FOLKS WERE DUPED BY HALPER.ONE THING FOR SURE, HE COULDNT FOOL THE MAN UPSTAIRS FOR ALL THE UNDERHANDED DEEDS HE PULLED.

    Comment by Herbie Buck — May 31, 2011 @ 10:51 am

  3. just when you thought the halper scandal couldn’t get worse, now we have gehrig glove-gate. It’s good to see that the hall of fame came up the winner in this case.

    Comment by chris a — May 31, 2011 @ 11:20 am

  4. Has any journalist ever played the stooge as much as this clown O’Keeffe?

    Comment by Al Young — May 31, 2011 @ 11:39 am

  5. Fantastic work

    Comment by Justin Brook — May 31, 2011 @ 11:40 am

  6. “In an interview with Lou Gehrig as recorded by John Kiernan of the New York Times on March 16th, 1941, Lou Gehrig was still in possession of his last glove at that time. As Gehrig tells Kiernan, the glove on the shelf was the largest glove he ever used and he decided to make the switch based on the advice of Jimmy Foxx who gave Gehrig the glove…. This is invaluable first hand contemporary testimony from the person who would know better than anyone else what his last glove was. ”

    Just a thought – firsthand identification is not always reliable either; Bill Buckner claimed for some time that he had the ball Mookie Wilson hit that went through his legs during the sixth game of the 1986 World series until it was proved that he did not. (The ball was retrieved by right field umpire Ed Montague, who gave it to Arthur Richman, then a senior vice-president of the Mets, who donated it to Leland’s Auction House, from whom Charlie Sheen bought the ball, after which songwriter Seth Swirsky bought it and subsequently loaned it to the Mets for semi-permanent display in their Hall of Fame.) Gehrig may have honestly believed he was in possession of his “last glove,” but unless he had verifiable proof of the chain of custody of the glove from his last game to the moment he claimed it was the same one sitting on his shelf, his personal identification ought not to be any more credible than Babe Dahlgren’s simply because it came from the Iron Horse’s mouth.

    There is also the question of what the “last glove” he used actually is: is it the glove he used in his last regular season major league game on April 30, 1939, or is it the one he used in the exhibition game against the Kansas City Blues on June 12th? The distinction is not made clear here, so it appears there could be TWO “authentic” last gloves, one from each of those games. There may even be more than those two. as Gehrig could have switched gloves during either of those games. All sorts of possibilities exist as explanation for the disparity between the HoF and the Halper Gehrig gloves that go unexplored and unexplained in this article.

    Barry Halper may have been a charlatan, maybe not; he may have started as an honest collector and been duped, then unknowingly continued the cycle of duplicity and dishonest authentication practices. Or he may be one of the worst memorabilia swindlers of all time, the baseball equivalent of Bernie Madoff; or he could have been just a decent guy occasionally gone astray. Whatever Mr. Halper truly was character-wise, his vilification here is implicit but unsatisfying. Perhaps Mr. Grob could clarify the “two gloves” issue; they could actually both be authentic “Gehrig’s last gloves” depending on one’e perspective as to whether an exhibition game qualifies as as a “last game.” For all we know, Gehrig could have played a game of pick-up baseball with some neighborhood kids on June 13th, 1939, which would qualify the glove he used in THAT game as authentic a “last glove” as either of the two scrutinized here. Perhaps IT was the one sitting on Gehrig’s shelf; unless and until this puzzle is explained, I’m not as sold as Mr. Grob on the “sole authenticity” of the HoF glove over the Halper one, although Mr. Grob’s outstanding research and expository skills offer a great deal to be appreciated and pondered.

    Comment by Perry Barber — May 31, 2011 @ 1:07 pm

  7. I appreciate the great work done by the author in attempting to answer the question of which glove, if either, was the actual last glove used by Gehrig. But in
    the end, what does it really matter?

    At this point the glove is just an old piece of leather. If I owned it I guess there would be a certain, “Wow, this was used by Lou Gehrig” thrill that would last about a minute, and then it would go into a closet or a display case and be of little further use. I feel the same way about autographs. To me it’s a little like having your favorite dog stuffed after he dies. It’s an attempt to hold onto something from the past, but ultimately just a lifeless remnant.

    I apologize if this sounds harsh, but that’s how I feel.

    Comment by stratobill — May 31, 2011 @ 1:38 pm

  8. Mr. Barber missed the point of the article.. Dave Grob is not stating that the HOF glove is absolutely positively the last Gehrig glove from ‘39… he simply states that the known history and evidence supporting that glove are more consistent than the known evidence supporting the Halper glove. In fact, Mr. Barber may be correct in his assertion that the Halper glove is the one used in the final game in KC, but there is nothing revealed by Grob’s research or by Mr. Barber himself to support that as fact… this certainly casts doubt on the authenticity of the Halper glove as the so-called last glove, but does not completely rule it out as such… Mr. Grob is, however, correct to call out the authenticators for the 1999 Halper auction whose due diligence was less than diligent… if I were Penny Marshall, I would not enjoy reading this…

    Comment by Ross MacCallum — June 1, 2011 @ 12:30 am

  9. The notion that gehrig’s last glove would be the one he used in an exhibition game in kansas city after he ended his famous streak seems pretty ridiculous. I have a feeling that if the sothebys lot description said it was from this exhibition game it wouldn’t have sold for $387,500. It sold for the record price because it was offered as being the glove gehrig wore in the famous last game that ended his consecutive game streak. It sold for that price because the auction house said it was acquired by babe dahlgren and pete sheehy directly from gehrig on the day of that last major league game played by gehrig. Sothebys presented this glove as that specific glove. Now we find that dahlgrens original story was that he acquired his glove one year after that famous game and conflicting testimony fom gehrig himself in the new york times. Oh, and we find that the hall of fame has gehrigs last glove on display and it was donated as his “last glove” by his mother.
    Hard to believe that if all of this info was disclosed that bidding would have reached record levels. Excellent work by Dave Grob exposing yet another Halper nightmare.

    Comment by chris a — June 1, 2011 @ 6:23 am

  10. I wondered what was so funny about the pitcher in the photo Gehrig had during the interview in plate J.

    Comment by gdc — June 1, 2011 @ 11:11 am

  11. Great job as always. I think the lesson to be learned is the story is what it is, memories can be fuzzy. Further research needs to be done such as matching photos or video if possible to verify if the item matches the stories.

    Comment by Marlon — June 1, 2011 @ 11:55 am

  12. Although the primary topic of this thread should clearly be about the article, not about me or my take on it, I’d like to briefly address a couple of comments here. I neither inferred from Mr. Grob’s article nor implied anywhere in my comment about it that he asserts that “the HOF glove is absolutely positively the last Gehrig glove from ‘39.” I simply act as devil’s advocate for the case that there may be multiple “last gloves” and that the article neither clarifies the issue of whether either of the gloves identified as Gehrig’s “last” actually is what it purports to be, nor offers a conclusive determination as to the superior authenticity of either. That’s practically an echo of Mr. Grob’s theories, not an argument against them, so how that translates to my “missing the point” is a bit puzzling. Where I differ from his conclusions is in his indictment of Barry Halper as an alleged charlatan and thief, when there are too many unproven assertions, at least here, regarding his supposedly criminal activities to satisfy my own personal sense of justice. If Halper is guilty of deliberate misrepresentation, forgery, and theft by deception, he should be convicted in absentia and post-mortem on the basis of fact and proof, not conjecture or speculation, is all I’m saying. (Also in the interests of truth and honesty, I am Ms. Barber, not Mr., although Perry will suffice – I don’t stand on ceremony here or anywhere else. But I do insist on accuracy.)

    Mr. Grob says it himself in his conclusion: “Each person who reads this or decides to look into this topic on their own is free to form their own opinion as to what happened to the Iron Horse’s Last Glove. In my mind, reasonable questions at this point in time [exist}…” As to the question of whether a glove used in an exhibition or pick-up game after April 30, 1939 could be presented as “Gehrig’s last glove,” it may seem far-fetched to chris a and others, but again, I don’t state categorically that this is so, I simply offer it as a possible theory for how one glove could be identified as such a valuable artifact when in truth it could be something else entirely. It could have been Gehrig’s private fantastical little joke on humanity for all we know, offering up the glove on his shelf as the real authentic last glove he used in a major league game when it may have been something he picked up at his local sporting goods store or had lying around from a previous season. And as I actually did point out, Gehrig’s personal identification ought not to be vested with any more credibility than Babe Dahlgren’s unless the chain of custody of the glove he identified as his “last” can be traced and verified. That’s what Mr. Grob’s research is all about: verification and truth. And his point, which I definitely did not miss, is that we should maintain a healthy dose of skepticism about ALL such claims concerning the provenance of baseball memorabilia regardless of where our inquiries may lead – back to a beautifully manicured major league field, a forlorn, windswept sandlot, or a dusty basement shelf.

    Comment by Perry Barber — June 4, 2011 @ 12:08 am

  13. Since it was the contention of both Barry Halper and HOF that this was the glove used on 30 April, 1939; Gehrig’s last official appearance in a major league game, in my mind the functional definition of “last glove” is the glove he used in that game. That is what the glove was represented to be in the Halper/Sotheby’s lot description and that is how the glove was listed in the HOF display.

    I do not believe that there is anything compelling or objective to support the Halper claim as it relates to this functional definition of “Last Glove”. I have yet to see or find anything from Dahlgren identifying the glove as such. If there were to appear a letter from Dahlgren stating he got it after the 30 April or 2 May 1939 games, this would call into question the accuracy and veracity of any testimony from Dahlgren since it would be in direct conflict with his statement about receiving the glove in April of 1940. While people can confuse facts and dates, you also have to consider the environment in which the accounts or versions are offered. The 30 April or 2 May account would have been in connection with games played and both Gehrig and Dalhgren being in uniform. The “spring of 1940” account involves both men being in the Yankee clubhouse, supposedly after not seeing each other for some time. Not only is there a difference of a year, but the environments and nature of the events are vastly different. If a person is likely to confuse or is unable to discern the differences in these two event/environments, then how could any account they offer be viewed objectively as being accurate based on their inability to recall even the most basic fundamental differences of the environment.

    The Dahlgren “spring of 1940 Gehrig waiting for us in the clubhouse story” is also in conflict with the statement made by Gehrig about when he would have or not would have been in the clubhouse. The notion that Gehrig’s account should be given no more credence that Dahlgren’s is not something I subscribe to and I feel this way for these reasons:

    1. First person account from the person reasonably expected to be the most knowledge of the subject.

    2. Gehrig’s testimony is supported by both imagery analysis and manufacturers data.

    3. Gehrig had no profit or apparent ulterior motive. No track record of inaccurate accounts (goes to credibility)

    4. Previous problems with items coming from the Halper collection (goes to credibility)

    In short, do I feel that the Halper glove is “Last Glove”, that being the one used on 30 April 1939? No I do not. Do I feel the glove in the possession of HOF is the one used one used on 30 April 1939? Yes I do. As I go back and assess all of these various factors, there interrelationship, and what if any impact they have on offering an assessment on who has Lou Gehrig’s last glove, I came away with:

    Imagery Analysis: Supports Hall of Fame’s Glove

    Manufacturers Information: Supports Hall of Fame’s Glove

    Provenance: Supports Hall of Fame’s Glove

    I would encourage those looking to make a case for the Halper glove to consider using the same methodology and focus areas that I did. In this way there will be a common framework to support an honest debate to support any position contrary to what I have offered. My research and postion was not based on the notion of “what if” as the baseline of any argument and I should not expect to see that as the basis for any contray work or opinions if they are to be taken seriously.

    Dave Grob

    Comment by Dave Grob — June 4, 2011 @ 6:07 pm

  14. Addressing this comment by Ms. Barber:
    “Barry Halper may have been a charlatan, maybe not; he may have started as an honest collector and been duped, then unknowingly continued the cycle of duplicity and dishonest authentication practices. Or he may be one of the worst memorabilia swindlers of all time, the baseball equivalent of Bernie Madoff; or he could have been just a decent guy occasionally gone astray. Whatever Mr. Halper truly was character-wise, his vilification here is implicit but unsatisfying.”

    I think Dave Grob went out of his way to just present the evidence and let readers make up there own mind. He could easily have recounted the many instances where Halper misrepresented and lied about fabricated and counterfiet artifacts he sold and also present the evidence that Halper knew these items were problematic and sold them anyway with fabricated “stories” similar to the Dahlgren episode. Here’s just a few instances involving other cornerstone items in the Halper Collection :

    1. Shoeless Joe Jackson’s 1919 jersey, Glove, Pocket watch and Black Betsy Bat- In 1999 Halper lied and told the HOF and others that he purchased the jersey and other items directly from Jackson’s widow in the 1950s. In 1985 he told TSN it was a recent purchase from Jackson relatives. The HOF determined the jersey was fake and the Black Betsy bat is nothing but a store model. (The Jackson items were sold to MLB and comprised at least $500,000-$1million of the $8million dollar MLB purchase from Halper.)

    2. Halper’s famous Signed 500 HR Club sheet- In 1989 Halper told Bob Creamer and Smithsonian that his father gave him the sheet with just Ruth’s autograph on it when he was a child. But when it sold for $50k at Sotheby’s in 1999 the description said Halper got the signature himself in person on Babe Ruth Day in 1948. Experts have deemed the Ruth signature on the sheet a poor forgery.

    3.Babe Ruth’s 1914 Red Sox Rookie Jersey- Halper told TSN in 1985 he purchased the jersey from ex Red Sox player Paul Whiteman’s daughter. But Whiteman never had a daughter (or any children) and the Ruth jersey was made by Spalding. Spalding never made the Red Sox uniforms in the 1910-1920 era. The jersey is now widely acknowledged as a fake by experts.

    4. The Last Will and Testament of Hall of Famer Tommy McCarthy- In 1982 Halper told Sports Illustrated that McCarthy’s signature was the only Hall of Famer he needed to complete his set of autographs for every HOF member. He told SI he recently purchased McCarthy’s 1922 will from McCarthy relatives for $150. McCarthy relatives never sold him a will and the will has recently been confirmed as having been stolen from the Boston Suffolk County courthouse. The well documented gem of Halper’s autograph collection has since vanished.

    5.John McGraw’s 1905 World Series Jersey- Halper told Bill Madden in 1985 that he purchased the jersey from relatives of a Giant assistant trainer named Macklin. However, the jersey was recently determined to be an outright forgery when compared to an authentic 1905 Giant WS jersey donated to the Hall of Fame by player Hooks Wiltse. Halper sold his fake jersey at Sotheby’s for over $20,000.

    This list goes on and on….

    Halper’s misrepresentation of the Dahlgren/Gehrig glove at the Sotheby’s sale fits the pattern illustrated by these well documented instances of Halper manufacturing stories/provenance about counterfiet and questionable items in his collection.

    Comment by admin — June 5, 2011 @ 8:56 am

  15. Mr. Grob’s research is extremely thorough and impressive, and I question neither his methodology nor the inferences he draws about the authenticity of the items whose images he has examined. As for his conclusions being based not on “what ifs,” he’s the professional here with standards to uphold while I don’t claim to be anything other than a lay person amusing myself with hypotheticals about the origins of both gloves purporting to be the “last” one Gehrig used. But I’m also standing up for Mr. Halper, who cannot defend himself from the grave. He was the owner/proprietor of a memorabilia collection so vast that a list of tens, or even dozens or hundreds of verifiably fraudulent items and forgeries wouldn’t be enough to convince me that he engaged in a “pattern” of criminality. The baseball memorabilia market by its very nature is rife with deception and dishonesty, but not necessarily on Mr. Halper’s part, is all I’m saying. If there were two hundred or more verifiably fake items in his catalog of tens of thousands of items – does that make him the absolute, incontrovertible premeditating perpetrator of the fraud connected to the resale of those items, or does it make him as much of a dupe and victim as say, Penny Marshall apparently was? What appears to be a suspicious pattern to some looks like something entirely different to me and doesn’t serve as a legitimate indictment of Mr. Halper’s practices and representations. Additional evidence might convince me otherwise, but right now I’m still not sold on the characterization of Mr. Halper as a deliberately dishonest dealer even if the glove he auctioned as “Gehrig’s last” really isn’t – but that opinion in and of itself doesn’t prevent me from admiring Dave Grob’s compliance with the standards of his profession or his dedication to unearthing and exposing the truth about these matters.

    Comment by Perry Barber — June 7, 2011 @ 11:53 pm

  16. Please know this post or response is not meant for Ms. Barber alone. It is about trying frame what is likely to be a continuing point of debate and discussion. What that be ing said, my research and subsequent article was focused on asking and answering a specific question. That being, with competing claims about “Gehrig’s Last Glove”, what do imagery analysis, manufacturer’s information, and an examination and evaluation of provenance indicate that may allow collectors/researchers to make an informed decision about which claim has the most merit and why.

    A separate, but related issue would be how to account for the obvious discrepancies in the Halper provenance. There appear to be two conflicting schools of thoughts that are not unique to this case. For the purpose of this post, we will not address Mr. Halper specifically as I don’t want to have a single individual detract from the point I am trying to make.

    The notion or idea that a massive collection is likely to contain either forgeries or items that have problems is a very reasonably one. Statistically speaking, as the size of the sample increases, so does the likelihood that there will be problematic items. If this is something we can agree on, which I hope we can, I will move along.

    The next issue would be trying to ascertain the reason for what we are seeing in the way of fraudulent or problematic items. If provenance or story does not come into play, then you are left with the quality of the research performed to support either the informed purchase decision of the buyer, or their own subsequent research (either personal or contracted for) as part of the resale. Part of this involves looking at methods and personnel involved. This should be seen and treated as a single/standalone point of discussion.

    If in fact the purchase and subsequent resale of the items was based on provenance (completely or partially), you should examine it in a manner similar to what I did with the Gehrig glove. Is the provenance reasonable and verifiable? You will notice that my work contained an analysis of time and change detection. This is critical in evaluating when problems began and who they began with. There is a huge difference between someone buying an item based on the story they were told and then reselling it with the same story as opposed the notion that the item was bought/acquired with one story and being sold with another. Although this is entirely possible, that new story would have to be substantiated in some objective manner. In short, why and how did the story change.

    When the source of both the item for sale and the story are the same person and the facts as presented in that story begin with them, and both the item and the story are found to be problematic, then the implications in instances such as this are clear and obvious. The results cannot be chalked up to “a statistical fact of life”, no matter how large or small the collection might be. This too should be seen and treated as a single/standalone point of discussion.

    When you have looked at the issues of evaluation and provenance in this manner, you will be better prepared to offer and defend whatever position you put forth or look to counter. In short, you can’t choose to address part of the environment and discard the other. My purpose is not to offer any particular opinion about Mr. Halper or any other collector. Rather, to offer as the discussion of issues like this or others come up, great rigor should be applied in focusing on the seminal reasons or nature of the problem exists or is most likely to exist.

    Dave Grob

    Comment by Dave Grob — June 8, 2011 @ 5:31 pm

  17. So is the glove likely an outright fake or is there a possibility that it could’ve been used by Gehrig at some point before his last game? Am I missing that part somewhere?

    Comment by Brett Schumaker — June 9, 2011 @ 10:30 pm

  18. If this is question is directed to me, I will offer some thoughts. As I mentioned in my report, I found there to be a disconnect between when Dalhgren says Gehrig was in the clubhouse cleaning out his locker and when Gehirg says he would have been there. I also made note that Dalhgren may not have recalled these dates accurately. This only really has bearing on the “Last Glove” aspect and not it being a Gehrig glove or not.

    The tough thing about gloves is that, in many instances, there is very little in the way to distinguish a “gamer” from what we would expect to see in a manufacturer’s “Top of the Line” retail offering. This appears more especially true the further back in time you go. In the case of the HOFs Gehrig glove, you can see (when compared to retail catalogs from the period in question) that the web appears to be a configuration/design not offered in the retail model. In my mind, this too bodes well for that glove.

    BOTTOM LINE: I never offered the Dalhgren glove could not have been a Gehrig glove. But “simply a Gehrig glove” was not what the artifact was represented to be by either Halper/Sothebys or the Baseball Hall of Fame. Both claims were very specific in this matter and that is what I looked to address.

    Dave Grob

    Comment by Dave Grob — June 10, 2011 @ 10:24 am

  19. Thanks, Dave.

    Glad I’m not the owner of that thing. I’d be pretty concerned about the authenticity of it overall given what we know about some of the “premium” items that came from Halper. When that auction took place, I was bummed that I missed out on several items because of the prices. Not anymore.

    Comment by Brett Schumaker — June 10, 2011 @ 11:27 am

  20. [...] Barry Halper’s Sotheby’s auction in 1999. Unfortunately, two of the more notable gloves became sources of controversy regarding their authenticity. One of those included Mickey Mantle’s glove used in the 1960 season and purchased by actor Billy [...]

    Pingback by Baseball History: Collecting Vintage Gloves | WorthPoint — March 21, 2013 @ 12:22 pm

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