About Honus Wagner Company
For most fans of baseball history, Honus Wagner represents one of the most respected and mythic figures the game has ever known. The “Flying Dutchman” spent all but three seasons of his 21 year major league career playing shortstop for the Pittsburgh Pirates before being an inaugural inductee to the Baseball Hall of Fame in 1936.
Honus Wagner Company, a Pennsylvania corporation, was formed in 1922 by Honus Wagner after his retirement. To date, the company continues to sell a wide variety of sporting good items, including but not limited to baseballs, baseball bats, tee shirts, and more…
In 1929, the Honus Wagner Company along with the use of Honus Wagner’s name, mark, likeness, and identity, was bought by E. L Braunstein.
In 1933, Wagner brought suit against the Honus Wagner Company, et al., asking for an accounting of sales of sporting goods made in the three years since he had contracted the use of his name, mark, likeness, and identity. Wagner also claimed personal injury because of newspaper ads that indicated he had sold his store because he was forced to liquidate due to financial distress. He also believed he was owed $8,000 from sales made, and wanted to stop the use of his name, likeness, mark and identity altogether.
Wagner’s suit detailed his successful 21 year baseball playing career and claimed that his brand was a valuable commodity. Wagner wanted the judge to essentially give him back his name, mark, likeness, identity, and reputation for his sole use.
The final decree, rendered on August 21, 1934, refused Wagner’s attempt to reclaim his name, mark, likeness, and identity. The court found that “the right to the exclusive use of the name ‘Honus Wagner’ for all commercial and advertising purposes is vested in the … Honus Wagner Company … their heirs, executors, administrators, successors and assigns. This was based on Braunstein having bought the assets, as well as a contract Wagner had signed in January, 1929. The judge believed that Wagner’s contract was clear and that no evidence had been proffered indicating any breach.
Honus Wagner Company prospered with Mr. Braunstein and his son-in-Iaws running it. They expanded to 10 stores in the 1930s and 40s, which were reduced to seven and then three after the 1960s.
In 1969, two years after Mr. Braunstein’s passing, his son-in-law Murray Shapiro took over ownership of Honus Wagner Company.
The company was highly successful and engaged in interstate as well as international commerce.
The physical store was closed March 21, 2011 because of the economy and Point Park College buying up most of downtown Pittsburgh. Murray Shapiro passed away April 20, 2012 and ownership was passed to his daughter who then passed it on to her brother Allen Shapiro.
Allen Shapiro has been transitioning the physical store to the world wide web. It is now online at www.HonusWagner.biz.