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Anyone Can Be Fooled

November 20, 2010

Recently, a jersey purported to be worn by Shoeless Joe Jackson during the 1919 season and donated to the Baseball Hall of Fame in 1998, has been determined to be a fake. The Hall’s discovery came after the jersey was taken off display in 2008 to undergo more study when its authenticity came under question.


It was determined that the jersey may well be from the period but its logo includes acrylic coloring and polyester fibers that weren’t produced until the 1940s and 1950s.


The jersey was part of a large collection of some 175 items owned by famed collector Barry Halper and purchased by Major League Baseball in 1998 from $7 million to be donated to the Hall. The Jackson jersey was considered one of the most prized items in the collection, though Jackson himself was banned from induction into the Hall in the wake of the 1919 “Black Sox’’ scandal when eight players allegedly colluded with gamblers to throw the World Series.


At the time of the purchase and donation, Halper, a well-known collector, said he purchased the jersey from Jackson’s widow decades earlier.


Baseball memorabilia buffs started raising questions about the jersey in online blogs. Though the Hall requires signed documents from donors attesting to the authenticity of items, Halper died in 2005.


This is an interesting introduction to my personal situation with respect to a jersey I acquired for In The Game that was not what it was supposed to be.


In an eBay auction, I acquired from the NHLPA a reported game-used Antero Niittymaki Team Finland jersey worn by Niittymaki in a game between Finland and Belarus.


The jersey came with a NHLPA Letter of Authenticity confirming that the jersey was game-worn by Niittymaki in the Belarus game. The problem is, Niittymaki did not play in that game nor did he serve as the back-up goalie. That makes this jersey a game-issued jersey and In The Game does not insert game-issued jersey pieces in our memorabilia cards.


I have issued a recall on the one card that was made using a piece of an emblem from this jersey but now the costly jersey is worthless.


I guess the moral of both of these stories is that you cannot be too safe when acquiring game-worn memorabilia. You have to do your best and you have to admit when you are wrong.


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