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"By pursuing his avocation with the ferocity and determination of Ty Cobb stretching a two-base hit into a triple, Barry Halper assembled the world's largest and most significant private collection on baseball, an achievement that should be ranked with the great American collections of the American century...." This quote from Sotheby's auction catalog underscores the importance of Barry Halper, not only to the sports-memorabilia world but also to baseball history. During a 50-year stretch, Halper gathered over 100,000 items from the great game, including a 1912 World Series program signed by "Smokey" Joe Wood and President Woodrow Wilson, a ticket stub from the Lou Gehrig memorial game, and Mickey Mantle's 1956 Triple Crown Trophy. The entire legendary lot was offered in two separate auctions in 1999: one live at Sotheby's New York headquarters and the other via the Internet at http://www.sothebys.amazon.com.
The handsome, slipcased catalog includes three volumes highlighting the event. The first two contain over 2,000 photographs (most in color), plus detailed descriptions and estimated auction prices of the items; the items are divided into 16 sale sessions arranged chronologically and by theme. The third volume examines the history of baseball and includes a timeline of the sport's past as well as essays written by Yogi Berra, Ted Williams, and others. An essential resource for bidders, this catalog also makes an outstanding addition to any sports fan's library. --Andy Boynton