Signed 'Shoeless Joe' Photo Sells for $1.47 Million

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October 10, 2021

An autographed photo of the iconic baseball player "Shoeless" Joe Jackson has set a record, selling at auction for $1.4 million.

Shoeless Joe Jackson

The photo, which shows the early 20th Century star wearing a Cleveland Naps jersey and throwing a baseball, is the only known image of Jackson still around. Frank Smith, a photographer for the Cleveland Plain Dealer, took the photo.

An unknown bidder won the image, which sold as part of the auction Extra Innings: A Private Collection of Important Baseball Memorabilia, run by Christie's and Hunt Auctions. It was the highest amount ever paid for autographed sports photo.

Jackson and the White Sox won the 1917 World Series and is remembered for his moniker, which came Shoeless Joe Jackson about because he played in his socks for part of a game because his new cleats created blisters on his feet. He played 12 years in the Major Leagues, for both Cleveland and Chicago. A very successful hitter, he recorded a .408 batting average in that 1911 season; that is the sixth-highest single-season average since 1901.

However, Jackson is probably most well known for being part of the White Sox that took money from gamblers in order to intentionally lose the 1919 World Series, to the Cincinnati Reds. He and seven other players on the White Sox team were banned for life from Major League Baseball.

Jackson never learned to read or write, and signatures of his on anything are few and far between. An unsigned T210 Old Mill baseball card featuring Jackson from 1910 sold in May 2020 for $492,000.

Also sold in the same auction were bats used by the larger-than-life Yankees superstar Babe Ruth, bats used by Honus Wagner, an autographed rookie card of Yankees great and "Ironman" Lou Gehrig, and a variety of other baseballs, photos, certificates, plaques, and uniforms. Also sold were a ticket stub, souvenir book, and press pass from that 1919 World Series.

The person who sold the items had been building the collection for three decades. The 246 items sold brought in a total of US$9.39 million.

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