Card dealer admits to doctoring the most expensive baseball card ever sold


Honus Wagner fraud!

A judge has rejected a plea agreement from the former head of a sports memorabilia auction house who admitted to using shill bidders to drive up prices and to altering the most valuable baseball card ever sold.

William Mastro of Mastro Auctions admitted to doctoring the 1909 Honus Wagner cigarette card that was once owned by hockey great Wayne Gretzky. The card sold for $2.8 million in 2007.

This is the one that was purchased by Diamondbacks’ owner Ken Kendrick. Which is weird, because if anyone would have appreciated a less-than-perfect – dare I say gritty baseball card — it’d be the Dbacks’ owner.  Looks like he was totally ripped off here. It’s like the precursor to the Justin Upton deal.

The dealer is going to jail for up to 30 months. I’m sure he doesn’t have the means to pay Kendrick back, however.  In other news: just about every sports memorabilia dealer I’ve ever met is sketchy at the absolute best.

(Thanks to Daniel N. for the heads up)

Hall of Fame will no longer use Chief Wahoo on Hall of Fame plaques

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Last month, in the wake of his election to the Hall of Fame, Jim Thome made it clear that he wanted to be inducted as a Cleveland Indian but that he did not want to have Chief Wahoo on his plaque.

His reasoning: even though that was the cap he wore for almost all of his time in Cleveland, “because of all the history and everything involved” he did not think it was the right thing to do. The context, of course, was the club’s decision, under pressure from Major League Baseball, to scrap the Wahoo logo due to its racial insensitivity, which it appears Thome agrees with.

Hall plaque decisions are not 100% up to the player, however. Rather, the Hall of Fame, while taking player sentiment into account, makes a judgment about the historical accuracy and representativeness of Hall plaques. This is to prevent a club from entering into a contract with a player to wear its logo on the plaque even if he only played with them for a short time or from a player simply picking his favorite club (or spiting his least-favorite), even if he only spent an inconsequential season or two there. Think Wade Boggs as a Devil Ray or Frank Robinson as, I dunno, a Dodger.

In the case of Chief Wahoo, the Hall has not only granted Thome’s wish, but has decreed that no new plaque will have Wahoo on it going forward:

To be fair, I can’t think of another player who wore Wahoo who would make the Hall of Fame in an Indians cap after Thome. Possibly Manny Ramirez if he ever gets in, though he may have a better claim to a Red Sox cap (debate it in the comments). Albert Belle appears on Veterans Committee ballots, but I’d bet my cats that he’s never getting it in. If younger players like Corey Kluber or Francisco Lindor or someone make it in, they’ll likely have just as much history in a Block-C or whatever the Indians get to replace Wahoo with than anything else, so it’s not really an issue for them.

Still, a nice gesture from the Hall, both to accommodate Thome’s wishes and to acknowledge the inappropriateness of using Chief Wahoo for any purpose going forward.