Collectors of baseball ephemera know that Shoeless Joe Jackson baseball memorabilia and collectibles are a hot commodity. Shoeless Joe Jackson was one of the players on the infamous Black Sox team, which was banned from ever playing professional baseball again by the Major Baseball League after the 1920 season.
Black Sox Scandal
Why collect items for a player that was banned from ever playing baseball again? Primarily, the items are collectible because of the incident itself. Shoeless Joe Jackson was on the 1919 Chicago White Sox team. Unfortunately, eight players on the team, including Shoeless Joe, were accused of fixing the World Series by deliberately losing. This was known as the Black Sox Scandal. A jury in Chicago acquitted the eight-team members of the charges in 1921, but the baseball commissioner disregarded their findings and still kept the players on the ineligible list. Because of this, Shoeless Joe Jackson can never be in the Baseball Hall of Fame.
What Makes Shoeless Joe Special?
Aside from the Black Sox Scandal, Shoeless Joe was famous for his playing abilities. Joe held, and still holds, several Major League Baseball records. Accomplishments for this player are:
- 33rd on the all-time list for non-pitchers
- White Sox record for the most triples in a season
- White Sox record for career batting average
- A .408 average in 1911- the highest average for a rookie that year
- Nominated as a finalist for the Major League Baseball All-Century Team
Collecting Shoeless Joe Jackson Baseball Memorabilia and Collectibles
Joe Jackson played for three different teams during his short career. They were:
- Philadelphia Athletics from 1908 to 1909
- Cleveland Naps from 1910 to 1915
- Chicago White Sox from 1915 to 1920
Items featuring Joe from each of these teams can be found on Internet auctions as well as in reputable auction houses worldwide.
Black Betty Bat
Items that are collectible for this baseball player are rare and understandably expensive. Most recently up for auction was the infamous "Black Betsy" bat used during the 1919 World Series. The bat had been kept in the Jackson family until it was sold in 2001 on eBay for $577,000. This bat was made of hickory and weighs more than 40 ounces. It was kept and used by Joe during his career and bears his signature.
Shoeless Joe's glove was deemed "the place where triples go to die." Next to Black Betty, it is considered extremely valuable.
A perennial favorite, the bobblehead dolls or nodders, are a collector favorite. These items are usually inexpensive, and often they are given away at special games at your local MLB baseball field. Shoeless Joe collectible dolls feature Joe in various uniforms, most frequently in the Brandon Mill and White Sox outfits.
Some of the most coveted items in baseball collecting are rare baseball cards. One of the most expensive items to acquire is the 1919 Joe Jackson baseball card. Expect to pay several thousand dollars for this Shoeless Joe Jackson collectible. Joe's 1909 Rookie card is also very valuable and a great find for any collector who has the finances to acquire one.
Photographs and Posters
Photos of the baseball greats are always collectible items. Finding original photos, especially signed ones, are difficult to come by. Sotheby's auction house and eBay auctions are good places to find authentic and certified signed items. Reprints are also collectible, though considerably less expensive and have a low resale value. Favorite photos include Joe and Ty Cobb posing holding their bats, Babe Ruth and Joe, and the 1919 White Sox team picture.
Collector Plates and Mugs
An easy and inexpensive way to start a Shoeless Joe collection is to purchase collector plates and mugs. These items retail for under $30.00 and have various photos or pictures on them.
No Shoeless Joe Jackson Baseball memorabilia and collectibles set would be complete without an original, or at the very least, a copy of the Chicago newspaper with the White Sox scandal in it. Another paper that is collectible is issue featuring the trade of Joe to the White Sox in 1915.
Starting a Collection
As with any collection, you should collect the things you find most interesting. A space to display your items is also necessary, so if space is a consideration, collect small items, such as baseball cards or mugs, to start.
Correctly storing your memorabilia is also important. Certain collectibles require acid free papers or special storage cases, so that the items don't fade or deteriorate. If you are unsure of how to store your particular collectible, check out our article on memorabilia or archival materials websites (such as Gaylord Brothers) for recommendations.