By Marty Appel / Marty Appel Public Relations
Barry Halper, a limited partner in the New York Yankees and one of the pioneers of baseball memorabilia collecting, died Dec. 18 in Livingston, N.J., following a long illness due to complications from diabetes.
“Barry was a dear friend, a valued partner for many years, and a decent, genuine person,” said Yankees principal owner George Steinbrenner. “What a great baseball fan he was. I’ll miss him dearly.”
Halper, 66, began collecting outside Bears Stadium in Newark at the age of 8, and eventually amassed a collection that would come to be worth nearly $30 million. For years he proudly displayed it in his New Jersey home, happily welcoming visitors and extolling them with tales of his acquisitions.
Among his possessions were the documents involving the sale of Babe Ruth to the Yankees, Ruth’s famous camel hair coat, Mickey Mantle’s rookie jersey, and more than 30,000 baseball cards. He even owned the Bob Feller model bat on which Ruth leaned for support during his farewell appearance at Yankee Stadium in 1948.
For years, Joe DiMaggio was a regular visitor to Barry’s home, and they vacationed in Europe together. Yogi Berra and Phil Rizzuto were among friends who celebrated his 65th birthday with him at his home a year ago.
In 1999, Barry put his collection up for auction, with a portion going to the Baseball Hall of Fame, where a room was named in his honor. Part of the proceeds went to his favorite charity, the burn center at St. Barnabas Hospital in Livingston, N.J.
Famed for the dry cleaning rack in his home that displayed over 1,000 historic uniforms, Halper was a friend to the famous as well as just plain fans. When Mantle held a hospital press conference in Dallas following his liver transplant, he spotted Barry in the room and said, “Barry, did you get my old liver?”
Halper is survived by his wife Sharon, and three children.