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Tuesday, December 04, 2012

No Frick-in’ Clue:  Investigation Shows $500k In Rare Letters Looted From MLB Commissioner’s Files at HOF

Later today, from Baseball’s Winter meetings in Nashville, the Hall will release the name of the 13th Ford Frick Award winner who will join past honorees including legends Red Barber, Vin Scully, Mel Allen, Curt Gowdy, Ernie Harwell and Joe Garagiola.  Last years recipient was Tim McCarver.  Unfortunately, today is also the day that releases its findings in an on-going investigation into the multi-million dollar thefts of baseball artifacts and documents from the National Baseball Library.  It appears that many documents originating from the files Frick donated to the National Baseball Library have been stolen and sold on Baseball’s “black market.”

After a three-year investigation into the Ford Frick-related documents that have surfaced in the hobby and have been sold at public auction since the early 1990s, it has been determined that the Frick papers housed at the NBL have been compromised to the tune of close to $500,000 including valuable autographs representing some of the greatest rarities in the game.  Most all of the stolen documents are thank you notes written to Frick and the National League office from old-time players who had received ”lifetime- passes” from Frick for free admission to Major League games.

Pop Snyder Posted: December 04, 2012 at 06:50 AM | 8 comment(s) Login to Bookmark
  Tags: hall of fame, history, special topics

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   1. DL from MN Posted: December 04, 2012 at 12:02 PM (#4316510)
You wonder how often it is that archived items walk away. They just found some misplaced moon rocks in MN and donated them to the historical society. I don't know how you misplace a moon rock.
   2. McCoy Posted: December 04, 2012 at 12:35 PM (#4316552)
It is insanely easy to steal from the Hall if you were so inclined. Which is a shame because stuff like this is going to force the Hall to change their policies and it will become much harder for the average joe to get free and unencumbered access to a ton of baseball history like one can get nowadays.
   3. ERROR---Jolly Old St. Nick Posted: December 04, 2012 at 12:51 PM (#4316574)
McCoy, do you know what the Hall's current policy is about checking packages, etc., before leaving an unattended room? I wasn't aware that anyone other than known writers and certified researchers could get access to memorabilia and ephemera that wasn't on public display. I once tried to get into their library and was told I needed a letter from a publisher or editor that I needed the information for a specific purpose, and that casual browsing in the stacks by visitors wasn't allowed.
   4. McCoy Posted: December 04, 2012 at 01:00 PM (#4316590)
I have no idea what the current policy is as the last time I went was 4 years ago nor can I speak about anything beyond photos, documents, and microfiche. For that stuff you simply call or email ahead of time that you are coming and what you would like and they'll set it aside for you. In off-peak times you can even walk in without a reservation though they tend to be politely not happy about that. I vaguely recall having to leave your bag with them or something like that but if your accessing a ton of files and making a lot of copies there is simply no way they are going to keep you from taking and hiding stuff should you so desire. If I had to guess I would guess that this is how the Frick documents left the building.
   5. Swedish Chef Posted: December 04, 2012 at 01:04 PM (#4316596)
Most all of the stolen documents are thank you notes written to Frick and the National League office from old-time players who had received ”lifetime- passes” from Frick for free admission to Major League games.

The thing that is most wrong with this is that crap like that have value. Just digitize it for historians* and burn it.

*) [EDIT] "Cliques of Power: the new paradigm of inter-personal relations and veteran leadership in the pre-integration National League as told by Frick's thank-you notes"
   6. ERROR---Jolly Old St. Nick Posted: December 04, 2012 at 01:06 PM (#4316598)
Thanks, McCoy. It's been a lot longer than 4 years since I tried to get into the library, and I had no idea how they've been dealing with visitors in recent years.
   7. Jose Is The Most Absurd Thing on the Site Posted: December 04, 2012 at 01:10 PM (#4316606)
The thing that is most wrong with this is that crap like that have value

Why is that a bad thing? I can understand not caring about it and I completely agree with the idea of digitizing it to make it more accessible. There is something interesting about seeing an original document in its original form that a number of people find interesting. This is the kind of stuff I'd be spending my money on if I were independently wealthy.
   8. Bob Tufts Posted: December 04, 2012 at 01:10 PM (#4316607)
it's not a recent problem per two years ago on BBTF.

AndrewJ Posted: September 23, 2010 at 04:53 PM (#3646939)

I am reminded of the Bowie Kuhn/Joe Reichler incident in 1982 (via Bill James, "Politics of Glory") when HOF materials were sold by Reichler and Kuhn excused Joe's actions.

Indeed. Hall of Fame exec director Cliff Kachline helped bring that scandal to public attention, and the HOF board of trustees responded promptly -- they fired Kachline.

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