From the Operation Bullpen author Kevin Nelson comes the latest installment on celebrity and historic and political forgeries. If a photo, album or poster is filled with multiple signatures and it seems to good to be true, it probably is. Getting the cast or group to all sign a piece is often a foolhardy thought.
In the latest installment from Operation Bullpen author Kevin Nelson, he looks at the nationwide autograph forgery ring brought down by the FBI in 1999 and how they are still inflicting damage to the hobby in the area of cut signatures.
A true historian of the hobby: Ray Hess collected baseball cards in the 1930s and saw Babe Ruth’s last game. And when talking about the Who’s Who of the hobby in the early days, Hess has rubbed elbows with them all.
‘Operation Bullpen’ author Kevin Nelson pens the final installment in his series on the famous forgery ring: Of all the hundreds of thousands of counterfeits produced by the Operation Bullpen gang, none has ever invited so much comment or ridicule as the Mother Teresa baseball, arguably the most famous autograph forgery ever made.
The signing habits of Mantle, Williams and DiMaggio on the show circuit and with memorabilia companies was all forgers needed to have a “story” as to why they would be in possession of hundreds of signed photos, for instance, of these superstar players – none of which were genuine.
Why do forgers go for the big names? Because that is where the demand lies. From Arnold Palmer, Muhammad Ali and Michael Jordan to Mark McGwire and Sammy Sosa, the big names and their big achievements lead to demand, and the forgers supply the goods.
The art of autograph forgery isn’t limited to simply placing a signatures on an item. As ‘Operation Bullpen’ author Kevin Nelson details, forgers were craftsman who did their homework to deceive collectors, playing on an appearance of vintage to sway buyers.
Kevin Nelson, author of “Operation Bullpen: The Biggest Forgery Scam in American History” debuts his exclusive series on baseball forgeries for SCD, using photos obtained from the FBI and stories he ran across in writing the book. Some of these photos have not previously been seen in public.
MLB historian John Thorn is immersed in baseball’s past, yet his personal collection is about heritage and not star appeal. Come along with an exclusive interview with Thorn as he describes his collection and how the hobby is still in its infancy.
Ready to launch is an online venue dubbed The National Pastime Museum – an impressive baseball collection available to all. As of now, five sections make up a timeline on the site: 1845-79, 1880-99, 1900-19, 1920-39 and 1940-52. The focus is on memorabilia and the stories behind the pieces on display.