Major League Baseball purchased part of the collection of legendary collector Barry Halper in 1998 but a new report claims to prove one of the major items in that sale isn’t authentic. After buying a number of pieces of historic baseball memorabilia, MLB gave a purported Joe Jackson White Sox jersey and other rare items to the Baseball Hall of Fame.
However, a story by HaulsofShame.com presents evidence showing that the Museum’s jersey is manufactured by the wrong maker and doesn’t match photos showing Jackson in his actual 1919 uniform. The report also states that Halper made conflicting statements regarding the jersey’s provenance.
Jackson was barred from the HOF in the aftermath of the “Black Sox scandal,” but his alleged jersey from 1919 was welcomed in Cooperstown with open arms. It was acquired by MLB from Halper, then a New York Yankees managing partner as part of an $8 million purchase of 175 items, including the agreement that sold Babe Ruth to the Yankees. Commissioner Bud Selig stated at the time: “This important collection belongs in the Hall of Fame and that is where it will be for all time.”
The jersey was once displayed in a case at the Hall along with other Black Sox items, but has since been removed.
The Jackson jersey on display was a pinstriped grey flannel made by Spalding. However, with the aid of historical records, photographs and the examination of authentic Sox garments, long-time collector Peter Nash says his research has determined that Halper’s Jackson jersey is counterfeit. Nash saysWhite Sox uniforms from 1916-1921 were manufactured by Wilson. A May 4, 1919 ad in the Chicago Tribune shows that Sox owner Charles Comiskey ordered his uniforms from Wilson for 1919.
Haulsofshame.com shows photos of Jackson in his 1919 road uniform without pinstripes. In addition, an authentic 1919-20 road jersey of Jackson’s teammate, Nemo Leibold, was auctioned in 2003, and is different than the one in the Hall’s collection.
“This jersey’s not genuine,” Nash said of the one bought by MLB.
In 1985 Halper told The Sporting News the Jackson jersey was a “recent acquisition” from Jackson’s relatives. In 1998, Halper claimed he’d bought it from Jackson’s widow in the 1950s.
The report investigates other Halper uniforms sold at Sotheby’s with ties to Ollie O’Mara, an ex-Brooklyn Dodger turned fugitive who was indicted in a crime probe with mobster Al Capone’s brother.
In the report, HOF official Brad Horn states, “It is critically important that we feel confident about the items being presented for the public benefit are authentic.”
The Jackson jersey is currently not on display in Cooperstown.