Barry Halper, noted memorabilia collector, dies at 66

LIVINGSTON, N.J. -- Barry Halper, owner of one of the most extensive collections of baseball memorabilia and a limited partner in the New York Yankees, has died at 66.

Halper, who died Sunday at Saint Barnabas Medical Center, was bedridden for nearly a year because of complications of diabetes, said Marty Appel, a longtime friend and former Yankees spokesman.

A portion of his Halper's collection was acquired by Major League Baseball and donated to the Hall of Fame in 1998. Halper also fetched $21.8 million -- a record for sports memorabilia -- during a weeklong auction at Sotheby's in 1999. Included in that sale was a game-used Mickey Mantle glove, purchased by actor-comedian Billy Crystal for $239,000.

"Barry was a dear friend, a valued partner for many years and a decent, genuine person," Yankees owner George Steinbrenner said in a statement. "What a great baseball fan he was. I'll miss him dearly."

Halper amassed some 80,000 items, including uniforms of many Hall of Famers, an original ticket from the first World Series in 1903 and the jersey Lou Gehrig wore in his farewell speech at Yankee Stadium in 1939. Halper also owned oddities such as the false teeth worn by Ty Cobb, baseball's career batting average leader.

The New York Daily News reported that during a news conference in Dallas in 1995 to announce Mantle's successful liver transplant, the Hall of Famer spotted Halper in the audience and joked, "Hey, Barry, did you get my other liver?"

Also in Halper's collection were uniforms worn by Cobb, Walter Johnson, Cy Young and Mantle, during his rookie season in 1951. Halper also had the contract finalizing the sale of Babe Ruth from the Boston Red Sox to the Yankees, and a Honus Wagner baseball card.

"The Baseball Hall of Fame has lost a true friend in Barry
Halper," said Dale Petroskey, president of the hall. "Anyone who
met Barry for the first time realized that his passion for the game
was what set him apart."

Survivors include Halper's wife Sharon, sons Steven and Jason,
daughter Marnie Stark and five grandchildren.

Funeral services are Tuesday at Temple B'Nai Jeshurun in Short Hills.