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Editor’s Blog: Harry and Larry, Former Times Writer Rips NY Post Over Halper, Jeter Foul Ball

I received an email earlier this month from reader Matthew Clifford in Mendota, Ill.  Maybe a vintage collector can tell us if he’s onto something.

Here’s Matthew’s note about the 1960 Fleer Baseball Greats card he says pictures someone other than Harry Heilmann:

I’m a baseball card fanatic and a old-time baseball researcher.  Recently, I began researching the Detroit Tigers (1920-1930) and I think I stumbled on an error you might find interesting.  I’ve kindly titled the error as CARD #65: The Mix-Up of Harry & Larry.

Larry Woodall, Fred Haney, Harry Heilmann, Ty Cobb

Initially, I found an old photograph of Ty Cobb standing with six members of his 1923 Detroit Tigers staff.  This particular photo included the Tigers’ reliable right fielder and Hall of Famer, Harry Heilmann and Detroit’s sharp backstop, Lawrence “Larry” Woodall.

After careful examination of the 1923 picture displaying Harry and Larry together in the same shot, I became confused.  I recalled a baseball card from 1960 that I had previously examined during a similar research project and reviewed details of the questionable card.  After I found the error, I added a notation to identify each player in the snapshot.

The card I am referring to is numbered sixty-five (#65) in FLEER’s 1960 card set titled, Baseball Greats.

Harry Heilmann 1960 Fleer Baseball GreatsI was shocked to discover Larry’s photograph on the front side of the card, rather than Heilmann’s.  I immediately researched other cards and photos depicting both Harry and Larry just to make sure I my observation was correct.  Judging the indisputable physical facial differences of both athletes, I believe that FLEER’s 1960 Baseball Greats CARD #65 is an error.  The back of the card exhibits a correct synopsis of Heilmann’s history as well as accurate statistics from his playing days.  The front of the card shows the face of Lawrence Woodall above the title “HARRY HEILMANN” printed in white font capital letters.

Both Harry and Larry played for the Detroit Tigers and both shared the coincidence of close birth dates.  The two players were born in 1894 but Woodall was born eight days before Heilmann.

Shortly after his death in 1951, Harry finally earned himself a place in Cooperstown’s Baseball Hall of Fame (Class of 1952).  Heilmann also won the AL Batting Crown in 1921, 1923, 1925 and 1927.  Along with his batting titles and heavy swing, Harry earned the accurate nickname, “Slug”.  Heilmann was truly one of baseball’s greatest players.  It’s obvious to understand FLEER’s decision to include Harry in their 1960 Baseball Greats card set.

Larry Woodall

Unfortunately, the overlooked mug of Slug was replaced with a snapshot of Larry.  Woodall spent ten years in the majors as a prominent catcher for the Detroit Tigers.  During his decade wearing the “D”, Woodall shared the playing field with his equally aged teammate, Harry.  The Motor City bid farewell to both Harry and Larry in 1929.  Soon after Woodall handed in his Detroit stripes in May, Slug followed suit in October after the Tigers traded the slugger to the Cincinnati Reds.

Photo of Harry Heilmann

I am surprised that this error has been unnoticed and unreported for fifty-one years. Harry never had a chance to see the mistake himself since he passed away nine years before the card was created.  Larry died in 1963, but I doubt he was collecting Heilmann cards during the last three years of his life.  For the record, FLEER’s 1960 Baseball Greats did not include Lawrence Woodall in their series checklist.  Although he’s not accurately identified in the series, there’s no question that Larry’s face will be recognized as a permanent addition to the collection.  It’s a possibility that many people believe that Harry’s face is on CARD #65.

I have tediously reviewed CARD #65 on line with hopes to discover a web page noting the details of Larry’s face on Harry’s card.  I have not been able to find any Internet web pages explaining any details or description of CARD #65 as an error.  Nor have I found any additional stipulations of CARD #65 recognized as an error in the most recently published baseball card price guide.  I notified other baseball card aficionados like yourselves to determine the truth behind the undiscovered error of CARD #65.  Please note the photographs I have attached with this letter.  These pictures in particular helped me to identify the differences of each player’s physical description.

Vintage collectors, what do you think?  Email me and I’ll pass your thoughts along to Matthew ([email protected]).  You can also let us know via our Facebook page.

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Barry Halper had no intention of defrauding anyone because he had no intention of ever selling his memorabilia.  That according to Marvin Goldklang, a long-time friend and neighbor.

In a column written for his blog, former New York Times and AP writer Murray Chass says Halper, who was once part of the Yankees’ management team, was also scared of George Steinbrenner and posing The Boss in vintage threads that he knew were fake would have been a dangerous thing to do.

Chass is most upset, though, with the New York Post, for posting an article that he calls “journalistically indefensible”.

Read his column here.

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Wow.  The baseball used in Derek Jeters’ 3,000th hit at bat that was consigned to auction didn’t meet the reserve price over the weekend, despite a bid of $17,392.

However, a 1914-16 Honus Wagner bat dating from his days as one of the first players under contract to Louisville Slugger did sell in the MEARS auction–for $33,140.

About Rich Mueller

Rich is the editor and founder of Sports Collectors Daily. A broadcaster and writer for more than 30 years and a collector for even longer than that, he's usually typing something somewhere. Type him back at [email protected].

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