He didn’t vanish into thin air after being banished from baseball but it’s safe to say you had to be somewhat lucky to know where Joe Jackson was playing in the years that followed. One of those appearances took place in late June of 1922 and a newly discovered photo proves that Jackson’s visit as a hired gun in a game between two New Jersey teams—wasn’t a secret.
RMY Auctions is offering the photo, which shows Jackson blowing smoke from a cigarette as he sat on the bench in Hackensack that day. He was playing under an assumed name since he’d been banned from organized baseball for involvement in the Black Sox betting scandal of 1919. It carries a $2,000-$4,000 pre-sale estimate.
The 6 ½” x 8 ½” International Newsreel photo includes a caption on the back identifying Jackson and indicates the puff of smoke in front of his face was an attempt to keep his identity a secret. However, Jackson surely knew that many baseball fans in attendance that day would recognize him so it’s possible the smoke is just Jackson’s way of showing his displeasure with having his photo taken—or it could be just a matter of timing.
According to a Jackson biography, Jackson’s team took on a team from Bogota that day and he delivered four hits while throwing out a runner from deep center field. Once the identity of “Joe Josephs” was revealed, however, the Hackensack team he was playing for had to forfeit.
Jackson played for several years following his banishment from the major leagues, most often in the south near his South Carolina home, but did travel some distance for games as well. At 32, he was still a skilful player and his services were in demand by semi-pro teams across the country.
Bidding opened Monday for the photo—and several hundred other vintage news photographs—at RMY Auctions.com. Bidding closes June 21.