2019 marks the 100th anniversary of the infamous Chicago Black Sox scandal. In 1919, several members of the White Sox conspired to throw the World Series against the Cincinnati Reds. The result was the ban of eight players from Major League Baseball by Kennesaw Mountain Landis, the sport’s commissioner.
Some of the players, like Shoeless Joe Jackson, were stars. Others were inconsequential. But one, in particular, has gained quite a bit of empathy from the hobby — infielder Buck Weaver.
After a slow start to his major league career, Weaver blossomed into a very good hitter. Batting only .227 in 1916, he would go on to hit .284, .300, .296, and .331 over the next four seasons. By all indications, Weaver was not a willing participant in the fix. Instead, he is believed to have only known about it. But Weaver was still banned for not reporting the matter.
His lack of involvement has made him a sympathetic figure among collectors and baseball fans. And a push to formally reinstate him has continued to occur long after his death. All cards of players involved from the scandal are sought after but Weaver’s are among the most expensive to chase.
Early Buck Weaver Cards
Weaver’s early cards, in particular, are highly desired. He appears in the 1910 E221 Bishop and Company team cards set as part of the San Francisco Seals team, but most of his individual issues are from 1911. One of his most common cards from that year is his T212 Obak issue. That card (shown here on the right) pictures Weaver as a member of the Seals.
The card is one of Weaver’s easiest 1911 issues to find, though it is hardly plentiful. To date, PSA has graded fewer than 30 of them, per their population report on the set. They appear for sale often but there really are not a ton of them out there.
The card doesn’t come cheap, starting at around $500-$600 in low-grade condition. Slightly better copies can easily top $1,000, though.
Weaver’s tougher cards from that year are even more expensive. For example, his E100 Bishop and Company cards usually start at more than $2,000. A modest SGC 20 (1.5), for example, sold for nearly $2,300 in a Heritage auction last year. Weaver’s rarer Type 2 version from that same set in the same grade reached nearly $4,000.
While those are all minor league cards, one has to wait until 1912 to see his first major league card. Weaver’s 1912 T207 brown background card is generally recognized by most to be his major league rookie.
This card, shown left, is from that set and pictures Weaver with the White Sox.
Weaver’s future, for what it’s worth, did not look exceedingly bright as he debuted that season. Appearing in 147 games, Weaver saw plenty of action to be sure. But he hit a career worst .224 that season, no doubt raising some questions about his abilities. Defensively, things weren’t much better for him with a career-high 71 errors at shortstop. That actually led the league and Weaver would go on to lead the league in errors three straight times from 1912 – 1914.
But Weaver’s career would turn around after that and his card is one of his more desirable ones. Prices for his T207 card are relatively similar to his Obak issue. They start around $500-$600 in low-grade and quickly top $1,000 for anything that is much better.
Other Buck Weaver Issues
If those prices for mid-grade Weaver cards are a little out of your range, don’t let that stop you from pursuing them. His later issues, as you would expect, are far more reasonable.
Weaver’s blank-backed M101-4 and M101-5 cards will generally cost you less. For the same $500-$600 that you will pay for some low-grade early Weaver cards, a mid-grade example of these can be had. PSA 5 and PSA 6 cards, for example, have sold in recent years in that range. Low-grade examples will be significantly less. However, keep in mind that cards with advertising backs will generally be more expensive.
A common and affordable option is found in Weaver’s W514 strip card. That set includes most of the Black Sox players and is a popular target for that reason. Decent Weaver cards from that issue, such as this one from Love of the Game, usually start in the $200-$300 range.
Cheaper cards still are available from years after Weaver’s career ended. A popular vintage example is Weaver’s appearance in Fleer’s 1974 Wildest Days and Plays set. He is in that set for his 17 consecutive foul balls as a hitter facing the immortal Babe Ruth. If you’re looking for a unique, dirt cheap card of Weaver, at about $5, that’s probably your best bet.
You can see a few dozen Buck Weaver cards for sale on eBay here.