Only known Shoeless Joe Jackson signed photo discovered in Ohio
The world's only known authenticated signed photograph of baseball legend 'Shoeless' Joe Jackson is coming to auction next year.
The Heritage Sports Collectibles 'Platinum Night' auction will offer the unique item as part of the remarkable Frank W. Smith Collection of autographs. Smith was a photographer for Ohio's largest newspaper The Cleveland Plain Dealer, and his recently-unearthed collection has been described as "a truly peerless collection of one-of-a-kind vintage photography and the flawless autographs of the subjects captured".
The Jackson photograph is one of a set of pictures taken by Smith and signed by every member of The Cleveland Naps, the Major League baseball team that became the Cleveland Indians in 1914. Smith snapped the team during their 1911 spring training in Alexandria, Louisiana, and today the signed photographs remain in almost mint condition.
Jackson was one of the greatest natural hitters the game has ever seen, the last great batter of the dead ball era. However, his career remains tarnished almost a century later due to his controversial role in the 1919 Chicago Black Sox scandal – a scandal which saw him and seven team mates thrown out of the sport.
Jackson's true involvement in the match fixing scheme remains a mystery even today, with many experts claiming his innocence, but he still remains on the MLB's ineligible list and has been kept from his deserved place in the Baseball Hall of Fame.
The rarity of Jackson autographs is due to both the premature end of his career and his illiteracy, which left him unwilling to sign anything unless legally required to do so. Many known autographs were actually signed by his wife, and most genuine examples can only be found on official forms and bank documents.
The signed photograph from the Wilson Collection is the only example ever authenticated, and is expected to make a stir when it crosses the block in New York. Jackson will be joined in the sale by rare signed photos of many of his Naps team-mates from the era, including Napoleon Lajoie – the player after whom the Naps were nicknamed.
The Heritage Sports Collectibles 'Platinum Night' auction takes place on February 21-22, 2015.
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