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Legendary sports and collectibles auctioneer Joshua Leland Evans passed away at the age of 59. He had been battling cancer for years.

An absolute magnet for seemingly trivial facts on baseball and football history he was good friends with many writers of Sports Illustrated to learn in between the lines how the greatest games of all time went down. The forgers might read the baseball encyclopedia, but Josh did that then spoke to the living witnesses. In the process he became the leading expert on American Sporting History and why his small start up Lelands became the biggest player in the field, surpassing Sothebys and Christies in the world of sports. If Josh passed on something and the big two had it, the trade reasoned something must be wrong.

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Most of that was not known to the public but this writer's late father Robert H. Boyle met a then teen aged Josh through Sports Illustrated while writing the weekly Scorecard, and as such functioned as one of the wise older men who helped mentor the younger Josh building Lelands into a power but also an extremely sage evaluator in authentic versus forged.

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This writer met Josh some twenty years later when I turned up a battered photo of Lou Gehrig giving his retirement speech at Yankee Stadium on July 4, 1939. That photo became the climax of the Gary Cooper movie, The Pride of the Yankees. Josh looked at it as if it were the Holy Grail of Baseball, which it was. Battered, folded, crinkled and greased, it had all the Yankee legends of that era, Babe Ruth, Earl Coombs, Tony Lazzeri, and a young Joe DiMaggio, there to hear that now immortal July 4th Speech:

For the past two weeks you have been reading about a bad break. Yet today I consider myself the luckiest man on the face of the earth.

Equally applicable for those of us lucky enough to have worked with Joshua Leland Evans, and in the process how to discern the right from the wrong.

Obituary by Robert Alexander Boyle



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