A photograph of Shoeless Joe Jackson dating to newspaper coverage of the indictments handed down in the wake of the Black Sox scandal is now at auction.
Dated 1920, the photo retains most of the original caption on back, one that chronicles the breaking news that Jackson and seven other Chicago White Sox stars would have to answer in court to allegations that they conspired with gamblers to hand the 1919 World Series to the Cincinnati Reds.
Heritage Auctions is offering the 7 x 5-inch photo as part of its current auction that closes later this week. It’s expected to sell for $15,000 or more.
The indictments were handed down on October 22 and the caption attached to the back would indicate the photo was used at that time. However, it also includes a photo editor’s handwritten grease pencil notes indicating the the photo’s first publication was on the morning of “9/29/20,” the day after pitcher Eddie Cicotte confessed to his part in throwing the scheme.
Jackson is also identified by his full name, a common filing practice. It’s likely the photo was simply in the newspaper’s possession as part of standard baseball coverage in 1919 or 1920 but also came in handy as the darker side of the story presented itself in the years to come and photos were needed to help tell the story. It was apparently used again in 1924, when Jackson was battling team owner Charles Comiskey over back pay.
Heritage calls the photo “arguably the most famous image of Jackson that exists, a simple portrait study of a man teetering on the borderline between acclaim and disgrace.”
The International News photo carries some creasing and corner chipping but has otherwise survived the last 100 years in reasonably good condition.
Encapsulated by PSA/DNA as a Type I photo, it will close on Thursday night, the first of a two-part auction now underway.