CHICAGO (CN) - A collector claims in court that three of the four autographed baseballs he bought at auction for $130,000 were forgeries, and his authentic Frank Chance ball was touched up.
Dr. Howard Rosing sued Mastro Fine Sports, dba Mastro Fine Sports Auction and Robert Edward Auctions, managing member William Mastro, spokesman Michael Gutierrez, Legendary Auctions, and its CEO Douglas J. Allen in Cook County Court.
Rosing, a retired doctor, collects sports memorabilia, including rare autographed baseballs, according to the complaint.
"Selling defendants misrepresented to Rosing that they were offering four baseballs for sale at auction that contained the authentic signatures of: Henry Chadwick, Mickey Welch, Jack Chesbro, and Frank Chance," Rosing claims.
Chadwick was a sportswriter often called the "father of baseball," who invented essential baseball statistics such as batting average and earned run average.
Welch was the third Major League baseball player to win 300 games in his career, which ended in 1882.
Chesbro was a pitcher who won 41 games in 1904, a record that still stands.
Chance led the Chicago Cubs to two consecutive World Series Championships in 1907 and 1908, and was the first baseman in the famous Tinker to Evans to Chance double-play combination.
"Rosing purchased the four baseballs from selling defendants at telephone auctions for an approximate total of $130,369," he claims in the lawsuit.
He says defendant Gutierrez claimed to have personally inspected the Chadwick, Welch, and Chesbro balls and confirmed that they were authentic.
"Gutierrez drafted LOAs [letters of authenticity] for the three baseballs misrepresenting that they were authentic when in fact they were counterfeit," according to the lawsuit. "Gutierrez sent the LOAs to Illinois to be used in conjunction with the Illinois-based auctions that resulted in Rosing purchasing the three baseballs.
"Rosing relied upon Gutierrez's representations that the signatures on the three baseballs were authentic. He would not have purchased the three baseballs had he known that Gutierrez's representations were false.
"On February 23, 2012, Rosing learned of possible fraudulent activities in the sports memorabilia market.
"Rosing has since learned that the four baseballs are in fact counterfeit.
"The signatures on the Chadwick ball, the Welch ball, and the Chesbro ball are forgeries.
"The signature on the Chance ball is an authentic signature that had been fraudulently enhanced with additional ink added sometime after the original signature.
"Rosing has suffered damages in excess of $130,369 proximately caused by defendants' fraud and/or negligence," he claims.
Rosing wants his money back and punitive damages for fraud, negligent misrepresentation and concerted action.
He is represented by Mitchell Katten with Katten & Temple.