‘Shoeless’ Joe Jackson was one of the best hitters to ever play the game of baseball. He batted over .370 in four different seasons and is third all time in overall batting average.
Babe Ruth named Jackson to his all-time baseball team, as did Ty Cobb. Jackson hit .408 in 1911, which still marks the sixth-highest single-season total of all time.
Despite his prowess on the field, Jackson was never enshrined in the Baseball Hall of Fame, due to his involvement in the Black Sox scandal of 1919.
While some still argue that Jackson doesn’t deserve to be a Hall of Famer, his baseball cards remain immensely popular.
Shoeless Joe might never make it to the hall, but his old baseball cards will likely remain high desired by vintage collectors.
In this piece, we take a look at Shoeless Joe’s baseball cards from his playing days. Unfortunately, the majority of his cards are on the scarcer and pricier side, making it a bit tougher for the most cost conscious collectors.
1907 Real Photo Postcard – Victor Mills Baseball Team
Some vintage card aficionados might scoff at the idea of including this photo team postcard of Jackson in the list of his cards, but this one is too good not to include in a list about ‘Shoeless’ Joe.
Most photo postcards were sold in stores yet weren’t actual ‘baseball cards’ as defined by the purest of collectors. Still, old postcards such as this Jackson team card are rare and highly demanded.
Jackson, as pictured (second in from the top left) is a member of the Victor Mills industrial league team of Greer, South Carolina. It is one of the earliest known photos of Jackson, with no true record of how many exist.
There aren’t likely many in circulation–note that one SGC 2 copy sold at Heritage Auction house for $21,500 back in 2016, so likely that any sales today would approach six figures.
1908-09 Greenville Postcard
Another postcard, this 1908 example features Jackson when he played semi-pro ball as a member of the Greenville Spinners. The caption under the image on the front of the card reads, “Joe Jackson, the Greenville Boy now with Philadelphia”.
The dating isn’t exactly known, but believed to be produced at some point during 1908 to 1909,
Some say that this lesser-known card of Jackson deserves to be his ‘true’ rookie card, an honor typically bestowed to his E90 American Caramel card.
Whatever the case, this Jackson postcard is truly a rare specimen with the actual population unknown. The value is probably likely in the six figures.
1909-11 American Caramel E90-1
Considered by most vintage collectors to be Jackson’s true rookie card, the E90-1 American Caramel cards were featured inside of packs of caramel candy and targeted directly at kids.
Of all the early candy and gum baseball cards (noted as E-Cards in the American Card Catalog) the E90 set is actually one of the most common among all cards.
The Joe Jackson card of the E90 set is the most valuable, and not necessarily due to scarcity but due to the popularity of “Shoeless” Joe.
According to PSA, about 80 of the Jackson cards have been graded, albeit most are in low-grade condition, hence the demand for higher-grade versions of the card.
In 2016, a PSA 8 Jackson was sold for a record $667K at auction. The scarcity will likely lead to higher prices realized for better condition versions of the card.
1909-13 M101-2 Sporting News Supplements
From 1909 through 1913, the Sporting News provided readers with 8″ x 10″ printed photographs as a ‘supplement’ to its regular newspaper.
While technically not a card, the limited supply of playing day Jackson cards makes issues such as this one highly desirable for vintage collectors.
Plus, it’s a gorgeous piece; if you don’t like the crude artwork from the American Caramel card, you’ll love the real-time shot of Jackson in his prime.
While you might be excited to add one of these to your collection, it might be a bit of a challenge as the current population is unknown.
Also, the condition of the photos is normally quite poor, as they were inserted in the newspaper, leading to lots of tears and folds.
They occasionally pop up on eBay and can sometimes be found for between $1000 to $5000, depending on the grade.
DiD You KNOW?
In 1908, while playing the first game of a doubleheader for the Greenville Spinners, Jackson was complaining that his brand new spikes were causing blisters on his feet. Jackson took off the shoes during the second half of the doubleheader and hit a triple during the seventh inning.
One of the fans saw Jackson rounding third base in his socks and shouted "You shoeless sonofagun you!" Word is that a local reporter overheard the fan, utilizing the nickname in his story, forever branding Jackson as the 'Shoeless' one.
1910 T210 Old Mill
A very rare pre-war era baseball card of the infamous “Shoeless” Joe Jackson, the 1910 Old Mill (aka T210 or “Red Borders” set) cards were distributed in packs of Old Mill cigarettes.
It’s a humongous set, with over 600 cards that feature cards of minor leaguers at the time.
The Jackson card features him while on the New Orleans Pelicans, a minor league team, in between his stints with the Philadelphia Athletics and the Cleveland Naps. Jackson reportedly was “scolding the ball all season long for the Pelicans”.
His T210 card is one of the rarest tobacco cards of the pre-war era as there is only a handful known to exist. PSA estimates even a VG condition card to be worth $250K.
1911 T5 Pinkerton Cabinets
These little-known premium over-sized ‘cabinet’ cards were issued by the Pinkerton tobacco company (parent of Red Man tobacco) as a premium to its tobacco customers. The cards feature an actual photo attached to a cardboard backing. The set is quite large with over 400 known subjects.
The Jackson T5 baseball card features Joe in a fielding pose as a member of the Cleveland Americans. The card is exceedingly rare with only a few known to exist. One of the latest auctions in 2018 at REA saw an SGC graded example sell for $45,ooo.
1912 T202 Hassan “Lord Catches His Man”
If you’re on the hunt for a more affordable playing day Jackson baseball card, this T202 Hassan triple folder card might be your best bet. The card features Harry Lord and Lee Tannehill, which on their own wouldn’t typically stir much demand.
Note that the back of the card discusses how Harry Lord is defending the bag in the middle of the triple folder, which is appropriately titled ‘Lord Catches His Man’.
Now it is quite clear that the base-runner in the picture is wearing a ‘Cleveland’ jersey but there was some confusion as to whether the image was actually of Jackson or not.
Some internet sleuths over at the Beckett forum have matched the photo to an old picture used in an old newspaper, thus it certainly looks like it is indeed ‘Shoeless’ Joe.
PSA has graded less than 50, so they are available, but with the recent ‘discovery’ on this card, it has become a more expensive adventure.
1913 T200 Fatima – Cleveland Americans Team Card
Another backdoor play into Jackson card ownership, the T200 Fatima team cards were issued in 1913 by Ligget and Myers Tobacco Company of NY. The sixteen card set features team photos “printed on a high gloss photographic stock“.
The Cleveland Americans team card not only features “Shoeless” Joe (second from the left top row) but also features Nap Lajoie (bottom right end).
PSA has graded 140 of the Cleveland team card and lower grade copies can be found occasionally for under $1000.
1913 Tom Barker and National Game Cards
The 1913 Tom Barker (WG6) and National Game (WG5) sets were two different sets, but exact copies of one another (hence the grouping).
The only difference being with the backs of the cards–as the Tom Barker set has advertised for “Tom Barker Baseball” on the back.
Designed to replicate a pack of playing cards, the two sets feature some big-time players of the day, including Joe Jackson, Honus Wagner, Cy Young, and Ty Cobb.
The Tom Barker set is a bit harder to find as PSA has graded roughly 40, whereas PSA has graded around 80 of the National Game version.
If you get lucky you might be able to find a lower grade National Game copy for under $1000.
1914 Cracker Jack
A beautiful set with striking red backgrounds, the cards were issued from 1914 to 1915 in boxes of crackerjack.
While the 1914 set was issued with the crackerjack boxes, in 1915 they offered a mail-in program for complete factory sets, making the 1914 issue more of a rarity.
PSA notes 4500 graded cards from the 1914 set, while over 12,000 from the 1915 set have been graded.
Given the relative scarcity of the card, along with the high desirability for Jackson cards and Cracker Jack cards in general, this is one of the most highly sought-after cards in the hobby.
1914 Polo Grounds Game Card
Similar playing card style to the 1913 Tom Barker and National Game set from the previous year, this 1914 Polo Grounds set features a different image of Jackson with the words ‘Hit’ on the top and bottom, with ‘Long 2 Base Hit’ on the sides of the card.
The Polo Grounds set actually takes its name from the green-and-white image printed on the back of each playing card, which is a white photograph of a major league baseball game at New York’s Polo Ground.
The Jackson card is quite scarce; only 30 have been graded by PSA. While the cards don’t quite carry the same cache as his ‘traditional’ baseball cards, nicer condition Jackson examples still fetch in the multiple of thousands.
Whenever I got the idea I was a good hitter, I’d stop and take a look at you. Then I knew I could stand some improvement..
Ty Cobb as told to Joe Jackson
1915 Cracker Jack
The front of Jackson’s 1915 Cracker Jack card is exactly the same as the 1914 version, with the only noticeable difference being the backs of the cards.
The easiest way to tell the difference is that the backs of the 1915 set were printed upside down.
The 1915 set was more widely produced and over 100 have been graded by PSA (more than three times that of the 1914 version).
These cards occasionally pop up on eBay but even in low-grade condition, you might have to sell a loved one in order to afford it.
1915 W-unc Strip Card
The 1915 W-unc was an anonymous set published in black and white with similar poses to the M101-4 and M128 Police Gazette sets. The 16 set features all the stars from the day, including Cobb, Wagner, and of course Jackson.
This is an incredibly tough find, as PSA has graded a whopping two of these!
While a poorly graded copy sold at Heritage auctions for only around $5000 back in 2015, I’d suspect a lot higher ending price in today’s market.
1916 M101-4 and M101-5 Sporting News
As shown below the M101-4 Sporting News Jackson card uses the same pose as the 1915 W-unc strip card. These Sporting News cards were produced by Felix Mendelsohn, a Chicago-based printer who marketed the cards to a variety of businesses.
The set was offered as a marketing promotion for The Sporting News, with the backs either blank, bearing the publication’s name, or bearing one of several different advertisements.
The Jackson cards are available with several different backs. Depending on the back of the Jackson it can be not very rare to extremely rare or basically a one-of-a-kind copy.
PSA has graded around 20 blank back versions, with similar variability for some of the more common backs. Be careful however as this has become a quite common counterfeit card for scammers. Some of the latest copies are on eBay are here.
1917 E135 Collins McCarthy
PSA has graded a whopping SIX of the E135 Collins McCarthy Jackson card, making this is an extremely RARE and PRICEY card.
A PSA 2 copy sold for over $20,000 back in 2017, so could be looking at closer to six figures today for any sale.
1919 M101-6 Felix Mendlesohn
Produced by Felix Mendelsohn, the Chicago-based publisher that also created the M101-4 and M101-5 sets, these larger-size photo cards are quite rare, especially the Jackson card.
A discovery back in 2013 unearthed the Jackson card, which had not been publicly familiar to collectors. The card was sold at Goldin Auctions shortly after the find, netting $37,000 for the seller.
I can tell you, given the rarity of the card that six figures today would likely be the ending price at auction.
1919 W514 Strip Card
Joe Jackson’s strip card from the set is one of his more affordable playing day cards.
It’s also an interesting card of note due to the fact that the issuance was likely right before or around the time of Jackson’s involvement in the 1919 Black Sox scandal.
PSA has graded around 50 of these with most grading as authentic due to PSA’s strict rules regarding the grading of strip cards. A low-grade copy can occasionally be found for around $1000, but these cards are heating up.
Watch out for fakes on these as this has now become a very popular target of counterfeiters.
“Regardless of what anybody says, I was innocent of any wrong-doing. I gave baseball all I had. The Supreme Being is the only one to whom I’ve got to answer. If I had been out there booting balls and looking foolish at bat against the Reds, there might have been some grounds for suspicion. I think my record in the 1919 World Series will stand up against that of any other man in that Series or any other World Series in all history.”
Joe Jackson to the Sporting News in 1942
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