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Barry Halper collected baseball memorabilia for more than five decades, starting at the age of eight. During this time, Mr. Halper amassed an impressive collection of autographed mitts, baseballs, caps, bats, and associated items. Barry Halper spent his formative years living near Ruppert Stadium, which was home to the New York Yankees’ Newark Bears from 1926 to 1949, as well as to the Newark Eagles of the National Negro League from 1936 to 1948.
The first items Barry Halper collected were the autographs, equipment, and uniforms of Newark players. Over the years, Mr. Halper became friends with many major league baseball players, including Joe DiMaggio, Mickey Mantle, Yogi Berra, and Babe Dahlgren. In many cases, these players would give Halper items to add to his rapidly growing collection.
With more than 1,000 uniforms dating from the 1870s, roughly 60,000 autographed baseballs and trading cards, and hundreds of autographed bats, Mr. Halper’s collection contained a wide range of one-of-a-kind items. Some of these were from Hall of Famers such as Chuck Klein, Mickey Cochrane, Rogers Hornsby, and George Sisler. A lifelong fan of the New York Yankees, Mr. Halper followed them religiously for more than six decades, and owned a minority interest in the team. Mr. Halper also worked for Halper Brothers, Inc., his family’s paper supply business in Edison, New Jersey, until it closed its doors in 1992.
In 1998, Barry Halper sold a portion of his collection to the Major League Baseball commissioner’s office, which donated the collection to the National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum. One year later, Mr. Halper auctioned off the lion’s share of his remaining collection at Sotheby’s for nearly $22 million. The National Baseball Hall of Fame named a gallery after Mr. Halper and hung a plaque in recognition of his significance to the history of baseball memorabilia.