Bullpen & More, by Kevin Nelson

Posts Tagged ‘Hall of Fame

Hall of Fame Planning Exhibit on Operation Bullpen

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The National Baseball Hall of Fame in Cooperstown is planning an exhibit on Operation Bullpen, possibly for next year. I just wrote an article about it for Tuff Stuff and Sports Collector’s Digest, explaining how the FBI and Hall of Fame started working together on the exhibit and how my book, Operation Bullpen, played a part in all of it. One of the things I talk about is how the Mother Teresa baseball (below) may become part of the exhibit, with the general public getting the chance to see it for the first time. There’s also some good stuff in there about how the FBI cracked the case, and you can read it right here.

Mother Teresa ball


Written by Kevin Nelson

July 13, 2009 at 8:49 pm

More Forgeries of Hall of Famers

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One of the nice things about blogging software is that it allows you to track the number of hits you receive on your site, and what articles are the most popular. Judging by the number of hits I received on “Forging Hall of Famers,” lots of people enjoyed seeing the fake autographs of Lou Gehrig, Christy Mathewon, Mickey Mantle and Ted Williams. By popular demand, then, here are a few more forgeries of Babe Ruth, a combo ball of Willie McCovey and Hank Aaron, and Eddie Murray, all seized by the FBI during Operation Bullpen:

Babe Ruth Ball CloseupMcCovey ball

Eddie Murray combo signed

Written by Kevin Nelson

May 18, 2009 at 6:51 pm

Forging Hall of Famers

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I enjoyed Scott Kelnhofer’s interview with the authenticator James Spence in the latest Sports Collectors Digest, especially this exchange:

SCD: Are you still seeing items on the market from the forgers that were convicted as part of the FBI’s Operation Bullpen?
James Spence: That stuff still comes in on a daily basis. In a sad sense, it’s profitable for us to knock this stuff down. When it gets back into the hands of some collectors, they might not destroy it or be able to get their money back, so they might try to pass it along to another unsuspecting party. I can’t put a big X through the signature. I wouldn’t want to have to deal with the legal issues that would come with that. Those items will always be out there, because I don’t know of anybody having this big bonfire where they’re putting all this bad stuff.

SCD: Are you surprised anymore by anything you see in terms of forgeries?
James Spence: I don’t think there’s any level that hasn’t been hit. We saw a bad Bob Feller autograph recently. Who would have thought that? We receive, on a daily basis, items that indicate just how bad it is out there. Whatever can be sold in bulk or where people can make money, you’ll find problems.

The Bullpen gang did indeed forge Feller and every other Hall of Famer of note, and as Spence notes, these counterfeits are still bought and sold every day despite the bust of the ring in 1999. Here are three previously unpublished fake Hall of Fame baseballs, probably done by Greg Marino, the ring’s “master forger” as the media always referred to him:

lou-gehrig-baseball_11Lou Gehrig

christy-mathewson-ball_1Christy Mathewson

mantlewilliams-comboMickey Mantle, Ted Williams, and 500 HR Club

Written by Kevin Nelson

March 26, 2009 at 4:59 pm