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    Description

    1921-31 "Shoeless" Joe Jackson Barnstorming Game Used Bat. It took the loss of Lou Gehrig to offer to the baseball world a story more tragic than that of Shoeless Joe, an illiterate laborer from Pickens County, South Carolina who left the dirt farms of his youth to become one of the game's greatest stars, and then lost it all in an instant. We may never know exactly how much Jackson understood, and how much he actually participated in the Black Sox scandal that resulted in the loss of the 1919 World Series and his banishment forever from Major League Baseball, but we can be certain that he was one of the most gifted athletes ever to find his way onto a Big League ballfield. Ty Cobb himself called Shoeless Joe "the finest natural hitter in the history of the game," and the great Babe Ruth echoed this sentiment, stating that "he's the guy that made me a hitter." Despite this highest of praise, the harsh ruling of Judge Landis was a weight that Jackson carried for the rest of his days, and he still does, perhaps forever locked out of the gates of Cooperstown.

    Of course Joe Jackson's baseball career didn't end entirely as a result of the scandal, though the venues showcasing his remarkable talents changed from 40,000 seat stadiums to weed-choked sandlots in towns with forgotten names. The fame and the money now gone, Jackson would continue appearing on the barnstorming circuit for twenty years, until the age of fifty, which would suggest that he really did play for the love of the game, and that the lure of easy money did not overshadow his competitive spirit that dark October. "God knows I gave my best in baseball at all times," Jackson is quoted as saying, "and no man on earth can truthfully judge me otherwise."

    Presented here is a remarkable artifact dating from the early years of Jackson's excommunication from organized ball, his trusted signature model Hillerich & Bradsby in his famous two-toned "Black Betsy" style. In a sad development, the famous bat manufacturer dropped the "Joe" from his bat endorsement in 1920, adding a final bit of insult to injury as they deprived Jackson even of his christian name. The "Jackson" that does appear on the barrel, however, is unmistakable, identical in every regard to those that appeared on Joe's bats during happier days. The use is outstanding, though this is no surprise--even in the Majors, Jackson did not spread his affection widely among his lumber, using a bat until it basically turned to sawdust in his hands. The low-dollar life of a barnstormer would only further this practice, and the barrel bears this out, showing the effects of hundreds of hard collisions with horsehide. The terrorized grain of the wood shows significant separation on the backside due to this rough life, which ended with an eleven-inch crack and missing five-inch chip, neither of which is visible upon display. The missing and dead wood account for the very slight deviation from the proper forty-ounce weight, while the professional model 35.75" length is also exactly right for Jackson's preferred gamers. The white paint that has filled in the stamping was almost certainly applied by Jackson himself, a lazy diversion on a long bus ride to make his trusty weapon stand out more, to prove he wasn't ashamed of his sullied name. It's clear that the use on the bat is subsequent to the paint's application. It's an incredibly personal piece from what was certainly a time of great soul searching for this most intriguing of baseball legends, and to hold it in one's hands is to experience at once the dizzying highs and crushing lows of the life of Shoeless Joe Jackson. SCD A4.5, with points lost due to condition issues rather than concerns of authenticity. LOA from Dan Knoll & Dave Bushing/ SCD Authentic. LOA from Dan Knoll & Dave Bushing/ SCD Authentic.


    Auction Info

    Auction Dates
    May, 2005
    14th Saturday
    Bids + Registered Phone Bidders: 12
    Lot Tracking Activity: N/A
    Page Views: 2,599

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