One of two known Jackson signed bats in the hobby!1928-30 "Shoeless Joe" Jackson Signed Bat from 1918 Chicago White Sox Teammate. They are linked in baseball lore by membership upon the 1918 Chicago White Sox, and by personal tragedy. The story of Joe Jackson is familiar to even the most casual baseball historian, one of the leading lights of the Dead Ball Era game banished from professional ball by Commissioner Kenesaw Mountain Landis for his alleged participation in throwing the 1919 World Series for crooked gamblers.
The story of Johnny Mostil, whose game used lumber serves as the medium for Jackson's exceedingly rare autograph, is far less familiar. Mostil played only ten games for the 1918 White Sox before relegation to the American Association's Milwaukee Brewers for two years, returning to the ChiSox for nine more seasons beginning in 1921. Though he never reached the heights of Jackson, Mostil did become, for two seasons, one of the top stars of the American League. His 135 runs scored and forty-three stolen bases in 1925 led the Junior Circuit, and he finished second in American League MVP voting for 1926 to George Burns.
So it came as a tremendous shock to his growing fanbase when The Los Angeles Times reported on March 9, 1927 that Mostil had attempted suicide in his hotel room at spring training, slashing his own wrists and throat and stabbing himself in his failed bid to end his own life. Though Mostil would return to competition late in the season, injuries would drive him from the Majors for good early in 1929, having never regained his former brilliance.
Perhaps during these last gasps of his Major League career, or more likely during Mostil's return to the minors and barnstorming competition, Mostil presented his bat to Jackson for an autograph. While Shoeless Joe was embarrassed by his own illiteracy, and thus typically avoided signing his name unless legal issues required it, he apparently felt compelled to honor his former teammate's request with the magnificently bold black fountain pen example we find here, a bona fide 9/10. At some point subsequent to that autograph session, the bat was returned to the Louisville Slugger factory for reproduction, as faded sidewriting (only "Johnny M" remains visible) attests.
A signed letter of provenance from the consignor to a 2005 auction picks up the story. The gentleman explains that his grandparents had been friends with Jackson in their shared Greenville, South Carolina hometown in the 1930's and 1940's, and that they had purchased the bat at a local auction because of that association. The letter states that his grandfather gave the bat to him in the mid-1970's.
The bat measures thirty-four and a half inches in length, at a weight of thirty-four and a half ounces. A handle crack extends close to the center brand but is invisible upon display. A coating of polyurethane was applied at some point, presumably to protect the autograph. A thrilling and exceedingly rare artifact for the advanced collector, with solid provenance and paperwork from both leading autograph authentication firms. LOA from PSA/DNA (bat). Full LOA from PSA/DNA (autograph). Full LOA from James Spence Authentication (autograph). Letter of provenance from owner.
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