August 2, 2011
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.
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.”
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.”
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 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”.
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?
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.
(UPDATE: The Heritage Cy Young 1908 road jersey sold for $657,250.)