An original portrait of baseball legend Shoeless Joe Jackson that was taken around the time of the 1919 “Black Sox” World Series has emerged. One of the few pieces of memorabilia left from the 1919 season, the portrait is currently valued at $17,000.
Joseph Jefferson Jackson, known to most as Shoeless Joe, is one of the most legendary figures in Major League Baseball history. He got the name “shoeless” from a time in his early career where he once removed his cleats before taking his at-bat because they were causing him too much pain. A fan heckled him as a “shoeless sun of a gun” and the name stuck.
He played professionally from 1908 to 1920, with the end of his career with the Chicago White Sox. His career batting average of .356 is the fourth-highest in the history of the league, but despite his skill he is most remembered for his association with the infamous Black Sox Scandal of 1919, where multiple members of the White Sox participated in a conspiracy to fix the results of the World Series.
Before the series, Jackson allegedly refused to throw the games twice before finally agreeing to take $5,000 to stay silent. But ahead of Game 1, the superstar outfielder told Sox owner Charles Comiskey about the bribe and asked to be benched. Comiskey refused, and Jackson hit .375 with a home run and six RBI across eight games in the unusual best-of-nine series.
At a 1920 trial, Jackson was ruled innocent after a sportswriter named Hugh Fullerton, who overheard the conversation with Comiskey, testified for Jackson in court. While exact details are still unknown, Jackson’s performance and Fullerton’s testimony seem to support his innocence.
But due to his association with that scandal, Jackson and seven other players were banned from playing baseball following the 1920 season and he has been excluded from the Baseball Hall of Fame despite his impressive career.
The portrait in question is described as a rarely-seen original shot of Jackson that appears to have been taken around the time of the Black Sox scandal. The photo is stamped on the back with the date October 29, 1919, which was just 20 days after the scandal. Experts associated with the portrait say that it was likely the shot was taken just before, if not during, the series.
The photo of Jackson was taken for the Newspaper Enterprise Association and measures 7×10 inches and is classified as a Type 1 photograph, meaning it was developed from the original negative of the shot. It comes with a PSA certificate of authentication. The photo is being offered for sale by PWCC Marketplace, which describes itself as a global leader in trading cards and related collectibles.
“Not only is this an iconic photograph of a legendary talent, but it’s also one of the few pieces of memorabilia left from the 1919 season,” Nick Cepero, Manager of Memorabilia at PWCC Marketplace, says.
“The commissioner wanted to erase all ties to the Black Sox scandal, so there aren’t a lot of pieces like this available. This is undoubtedly a holy grail item for Shoeless Joe Jackson, one the of the greatest outfielders to ever play the game.”
At the time of publication, the highest value bid for the portrait sits at $17,000.
Image credits: PWCC Marketplace