It’s rare when the losing team in a championship series is remembered more than the winners. Such was the fate of the 1919 Cincinnati Reds, victorious over the infamous 1919 Chicago “Black Sox” in a nine-game series tainted by the scandal that resulted in the lifetime ban of Shoeless Joe Jackson, Buck Weaver and six others. Now, though, perhaps the most important of all surviving relics from the Reds’ victory has emerged to help tell the story of a great team overshadowed by an unfortunate moment in history.
A 1919 World Series championship pin, the forerunner of the World Series ring, has been consigned to Robert Edward Auctions and will be offered in the company’s upcoming spring 2011 auction. It is one of just two known surviving examples and was consigned to REA directly by the family of Jake Daubert, the star Cincinnati first baseman.
The pin was the official award given to players on the 1919 Reds following their five games to three victory over the White Sox in the World Series, and in 1919 was the ultimate symbol of triumph in what history would soon remember as baseball’s most controversial World Series. This award declared recipients as honored members of the World’s Champions. Jake Daubert’s formal name, “Jacob E. Daubert”, is engraved on the back.
Before 1922, World Series champions received pendants, pins, or some other type of special jewelry item. In modern times, of course, the tradition is the presentation of a ring. But in 1919, a finely crafted 14k gold pin with diamond set in the middle of a baseball diamond design, and reading “World’s Champions 1919”, served this purpose. Each pin was designed with the recipient’s name engraved on the reverse.
The only other 1919 World Series championship pin known to exist in private hands was the one presented to third baseman Heinie Groh. His family sold his award decades ago. Like many of the baseball collecting world’s greatest treasures, it wound up in the legendary Barry Halper Collection. Buried in a mountain of rare and valuable items in the 1999 Barry Halper Collection auction conducted by Sotheby’s, it sold for $17,250 at that time. No other example has been offered in the collecting world before or since.
In the letter from Jake Daubert’s granddaughter that accompanies the 1919 Championship pin, Joan Daubert-Becker writes that she remembers her grandmother pulling out the pin on occasion, and telling her the story of how the Reds felt they didn’t get the respect they were due. “That really says it all,” notes REA President Robert Lifson. “Over and above the incredible rarity of the piece, and the significance of the 1919 World Series, the championship award presented to each player has an irony and a story unlike any other World Series award. Imagine being a member of the Reds in the wake of the revelations of the scandal.”
No one could take away their title, but when the scandal broke shortly after the series, the respect accorded the 1919 World’s Champions was without question diminished. All the attention was given to the Black Sox scandal, and the very nature of the scandal itself gave the impression that the Reds did not deserve the World Championship, that they only “won” because the Black Sox threw the series. Truth be told, the Reds were one of the best teams of the era.
From 1918 through 1928, no National League team won more regular season games than Cincinnati’s 1919 club. And yet, their 1919 World Series victory was always tarnished. It just was not the same to be declared World Champions because of a World Series that was alleged to have been thrown. Was the series definitely thrown? Would the Reds have won had there been no scandal? We’ll never know.
Jake Daubert was one of the top first basemen of the early 20th century, a slick fielder who also won a pair of National League batting titles. He had learned hard work at an early age, supporting his family by working in a coal mine at age 11, before the implementation of child labor laws. As a player, he was one of the earliest activists for players’ rights, which were virtually non-existent at the time, a fact that did not endear him to baseball owners. No doubt, he sympathized with many of the issues raised by members of the 1919 White Sox who were at odds with owner Charles Comiskey and tempted into conspiring with gamblers offering cash in exchange for a less than stellar effort during the Series.
Ironically, Daubert died due to complications from an appendectomy five years to the day after the Reds took game eight of the 1919 World Series. At age 40, he was still an active player at the time of his death, which sent shock waves through baseball.
“Collectors are almost totally unfamiliar with the 1919 Reds pin award because it is so rare,” Lifson said. “This is one of the greatest championship items from any year that could possibly exist and one of the greatest items that exists related to the Black Sox scandal. We’d be excited about offering this item consigned from anywhere. But for us it’s all the more exciting, and really a special honor, to present this treasure directly from the Daubert family.”
Robert Edward Auctions provides free catalogs upon request and is still accepting consignments for its auction, scheduled to begin in April of 2011. To learn more about Robert Edward Auctions, to receive a complimentary copy of the catalog, or to inquire about consignments, visit www.robertedwardauctions.com or call 908-226-9900.