When pre-war collectors hear the name Chick Gandil today, he is most commonly thought of in terms that aren’t so flattering. Gandil was known as not only one of the eight members banned for their part in fixing the 1919 World Series but is often described as the ringleader.
Collaborating with gamblers, Gandil is believed to help stage the entire deal which resulted in several members of his White Sox team helping to intentionally lose the series to the Cincinnati Reds. The players were eventually banned for life from the major leagues.
Gandil was, by most accounts, a decent player but not a slam dunk superstar. In nine seasons with the White Sox, Washington Senators, and Cleveland Indians, he hit a respectable .277. He was a member of the 1917 White Sox team that had won it all and having already won a ring, and that perhaps played a role in his willingness to lose in 1919. You can find a relatively inexpensive Gandil card from that ill-fated 1919 season. He’s pictured in his Sox uniform in the W514 strip card set with low-grade examples usually costing no more than $500.
It should be noted that while he was no offensive star, he was known as a very good defensive player. Gandil led the league in fielding percentage among first basemen five times in his nine seasons. He also led the league’s first basemen in other defensive categories, such as putouts, assists, and double plays. Still, despite that defensive prowess, Gandil wasn’t really considered to be an elite player, overall. Good? Yes. Hall of Famer? Not really. His name is certainly not routinely mentioned among the top players of his generation.
Even though he fell short of superstardom, Gandil’s card prices, especially for his early issues, have not suffered for the simple reason he is tied to the scandal. Virtually anything to do with the 1919 scandal is highly desired and his cards are no exception. It can be argued that Gandil’s popularity has a lot more to do with that than being an effective ballplayer and his cards have seen some crazy amounts because of it.
One of Gandil’s most desirable issues, for example, is his 1910 E90-3 American Caramel card. While others in the set can be had for a few hundred dollars in decent shape, even in low-grade condition, Gandil’s card commands four figures. At one time, the card was a little more affordable. However, it’s gotten more popular over time and is difficult to find.
Gandil’s popularity is also seen in other, slightly more common sets. The 1912 C46 Imperial Tobacco set, a Canadian issue, is known for its large collection of minor league players. Many of the players did appear in the majors, but had only modest careers. Gandil is one of the exceptions and his card is among the highest in the set along with Hall of Famers Iron Man McGinnity and Joe Kelley. While decent commons start around $30-$40, Gandil’s card is almost ten times that. A PSA 5 sold at auction for more than $550.
One of Gandil’s most desirable cards around is his 1909 Obak minor league card featuring him with Sacramento. The card is rare and features him fielding a ball. Even in modest condition, the card sells for over $1,000. A PSA 4 sold at a 2016 auction earned more than double that, in fact, with a final price of $2,040.
The best bet for fans looking for an inexpensive early Gandil card should probably check out his T206 issue. The image is a great one and features Gandil as a young player with a bat in a baseball sweater.
He is so young, in fact, that it is even considered to be a rookie card by some collectors as the T206 set was printed from 1909-11. Gandil T206 prices fluctuate wildly depending on the condition and the back advertisement. However, a common-back Gandil in mid-grade condition starts around $125 – a bargain compared to some of his rarer cards.
Gandil wasn’t a Hall of Fame player but his cards are placed on par with many others inducted into Cooperstown. You can see Chick Gandil cards on eBay here.