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Only Known Signed Photo of 'Shoeless' Joe Jackson Up for Auction

  • Reuters

An autographed picture of Cleveland baseball player Joe Jackson is shown at Heritage Auctions in Dallas, Texas, Jan. 22, 2015.

An autographed picture of Cleveland baseball player Joe Jackson is shown at Heritage Auctions in Dallas, Texas, Jan. 22, 2015.

A signed photograph from 1911 of legendary baseball player "Shoeless" Joe Jackson, thought to be the only one in existence, will go on the auction block later this month after more than a century in a Cleveland news photographer's scrapbook.

The photograph of Jackson, a star outfielder who was banned from baseball after being accused of helping to throw the 1919 World Series, is expected to fetch a minimum of $100,000, Chris Ivy, director of sports auctions for Dallas-based Heritage Auctions, said on Monday.

"The fact that it is an 8 x 10 [inches] oversized photograph, taken in 1911, his record rookie season, with the signature in mint condition, is as good as it gets for a collector," Ivy said.

Fewer than 100 Jackson autographs exist in the marketplace in part because he had little formal education and was "functionally illiterate," Ivy said.

"It took him a long time to write his name. It was something that was embarrassing to him," Ivy said.

A live auction for Jackson's photo, along with other members of the 1911 Cleveland Naps team, will take place in New York City on Feb. 21.

"I expect to see some spirited bidding," Ivy said.

Jackson played for the Naps, now the Cleveland Indians, from 1911 to 1915. He set a rookie season record that still stands with a .408 batting average.

The picture, along with ones of more than 60 other players, was taken by Cleveland Plain Dealer photographer Frank Smith. Smith's scrapbook was bought for $15,000 by family friend Bill Bowen, Ivy said. After Bowen's recent death, his widow decided to sell the photos.

Jackson went to the Chicago White Sox, where he was part of the team that won the 1917 World Series. He was suspended in 1920 after allegations that he and seven other members of the so-called Black Sox threw the 1919 World Series.

In 1921, a jury acquitted Jackson of helping to fix the Series, but he was banned from baseball for life.

Jackson, who died in 1951 at age 64, was given the "Shoeless" nickname after he played a minor league game in his socks because his shoes gave him blisters.

Jackson's legendary "Black Betsy" bat sold for $577,610 at auction in 2001.

Films depicting Jackson include "Eight Men Out" in 1988 and "Field of Dreams" in 1989.

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