We all have different definitions of tragedy in sports but among the saddest of anything that happened to a particular player is the story of the 1919 Chicago White Sox and their best hitter Shoeless Joe Jackson. The 1919 Chicago White Sox are known in history as the team which "threw" the World Series and the players involved in that event are now more commonly known as the "Eight Men Out" as there were eight members of that team who knew about the plot to throw the World Series so gamblers could make a mint betting on the games.
Jackson was a highly respected pure hitter who grew up barely able to read or write. But he knew how to hit a baseball and was truly a natural at the plate. Although he was over 30 at the end of the 1920 season, baseball was about to enter the "lively-ball" era. Most of the great hitters would continue to have great seasons and it’s likely Jackson would have too, despite advanced age throughout the 1920's.
Although Jackson and the other members of the "Black Sox" were never convicted in court, newly-minted Commissioner Kennesaw Mountain Landis would bar those players from ever participating in another major league contest. That ban still holds even though all of them have long since passed into the Field of Dreams for good.
Being banned from Major League Baseball also meant these players could never be on a licensed card. Pete Rose is a more modern example of a player who is barred from being on a licensed set. However, in 2001 Upper Deck created a new brand called SP Legendary Cuts. The card which drew the most attention was an insert set called "Debut Game Bats" featuring players who had never had a bat card before. Needless to say, Major League Baseball was not real pleased with this card and informed Upper Deck there were to be no more Joe Jackson bat cards.
However, there were plenty issued and collectors to this day can easily pick them up.
In cooperation with eBay, the 2001 SP Legendary Cut Debut Game Bat of Joe Jackson is our Card of the Day. Click here to see a BGS 9 example that’s priced below several others of lower grade.
You can see other Jackson cards, including some from his playing days, here.
Rich Klein can be reached at [email protected]