Masterpieces and Uncommon Commons XXXII
This lot is closed for bidding. Bidding ended on 4/15/2011
Beginning in 1909, Philadelphia’s American Caramel Company issued what was planned to be a set of 100 Base Ball Subjects in their popular Base Ball Caramels. By the time the set was retired in 1911, the number of players depicted had grown to 120, with many of the set’s later additions printed in lesser quantities, simply because they were on the market for a reduced period of time.
Standard in size for the time and product packaging, these 1 ½” x 2 ¾” cardboard treasures were issued in individual packs with sticks of caramel candy, usually for a penny each. Featuring full color illustrations copied from popular photos of the day, the cards range from primitive in appearance to near photo illustrated, with each card’s outcome resting squarely upon the illustrator employed to create the final piece of artwork.
While loaded with Hall of Famers, the set holds one of baseball’s most prized treasures – the rookie card of none other than Shoeless Joe Jackson.
This tiny bit of antiquity, its fragility held safe by PSA’s encapsulation, marks the beginning of one of baseball’s greatest legends and greatest tragedies. The card’s grade of poor is honest and fairly graded. Creases cross the card’s front and are clearly visible against the plum background behind the great hitter. The corners are rounded and Shoeless Joe, himself, is slightly out of register, a common occurrence with E90-1’s, which were printed at faster speeds, to improve production and reduce costs. The card’s reverse reveals a hint of paper loss, most certainly caused by handling of this gem over the past century.
But even at a reduced grade, the rarity and desirability of this card cannot be denied. For this is no ordinary player. This is “Shoeless Joe.”
The Beginning of a Legend
Discovered by Connie Mack in 1908, Jackson made headlines across the south, scorching the ball at a .346 clip for the Greenville Spinners and amassing 120 hits in just 87 games. Mr. Mack knew talent when he saw it.
Jackson was immediately called to the majors and immediately failed with the star-studded Philadelphia A’s. The most literate city in all of America, was no place for a Southerner who couldn’t read or write. Shoeless Joe suffered endless hazing and taunts from his teammates, fans, the media and more. In two short stints with A’s, Jackson was miserable and his stats showed it. The man Babe Ruth called “the greatest hitter I ever saw” hit six singles in 40 at-bats for the A’s in the two seasons prior to his 20th birthday. Having seen enough, and feeling sorry for the soft-spoken Southerner, Mack sent Joe to Cleveland for a mediocre outfielder named Bris Lord.
Upon being traded, Jackson was dispatched to New Orleans for seasoning. He helped lead the Pelicans to the Southern Association championship, hitting .354 in 1910. The speedy outfielder, made his presence known the following year, hitting .408 in 1911, his first full big league season. Despite his lofty average, he was denied the batting crown, by Ty Cobb who enjoyed his greatest season, hitting .420.
America’s Most Beloved Fallen Hero
You probably know the rest of Shoeless Joe’s story. The story has been told in books, movies, theatre productions and on-line. The good years in Cleveland. The .356 lifetime batting average, second only to Cobb and Hornsby. The 1917 World Championship. The Black Sox Scandal and banishment from baseball. Even his final season in 1920, where he hit a scorching .392 prior to the Landis decision that removed him from the game he loved, for a crime most believed he never committed.
But before all of the hits, the stardom and the scandal, there was a humble rookie outfielder, a son of the South, a mill worker escaping factory life, a ball player with a dream. That’s what this magnificent Jackson rookie represents.
Its PSA 1 grade not withstanding, this Jackson rookie is a museum quality relic, a tiny memento from a simpler time. We are available to answer questions about this illusive and prized treasure. Own it and you will own a piece of baseball lore.
PSA POP COUNT: 38 of 57 examples have been graded higher, although this card at any grade is rarely seen outside of advanced collections and museums.
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