The Beckett Blog

Black Sox’s staining of the game hasn’t hurt their cards by Chris Olds


There are plenty of scandals and black eyes for baseball through the years but today is the day, albeit 90 years ago, that one of the most egregious tales officially began.

The Black Sox — the throwing of the 1919 World Series by the Chicago White Sox.

Eight players — Joe Jackson, Eddie Cicotte, Lefty Williams, Chick Gandil, Fred McMullen, Swede Risberg, Happy Felsch and Buck Weaver — were banned from the game for life, added to baseball’s ineligible list for their involvement in or knowledge of the fix.

And because those players are on the ineligible list, they have largely been unseen on modern-day baseball cards because they are ineligible to appear on any cards licensed by Major League Baseball.

Sure, they have appeared in some sets in recent years — but it’s nothing like the biggest names in the game. (After all, baseball is one sport where history seems to be at the forefront on a near-daily basis as long as you’re not comparing artificially enhanced home run totals.)

Cicotte (the Game 1 starter), for example, appears on a total of just 94 baseball cards — and a vast majority of those were made from 1909 to 1921. A good chunk of the more recent cards are from the 1988 Pacific Eight Men Out set made for the 1988 movie, many of those bearing the likeness of actor David Strathairn.

In fact, since 1994 Cicotte has appeared on only two cards listed in the Beckett Database (both unlicensed) and one is from this year — the 2009 Sportkings Eight Men Out Cut Autographs card. It’s his lone autograph card.

Cards from Cicotte’s playing days generally aren’t remarkably expensive when in lower grades, but his most valuable and commonly tracked cards sell for a few thousand dollars. (His priciest is his 1910 American Caramel Die Cuts E125 card at $6,000.)

Obviously there will be some collector interest in those players as the scandal won’t be forgotten. But one has to wonder whether the small quantities of cards for those players — the highest-profile player, “Shoeless Joe,” has just 209 cards and nearly a quarter of those were made unlicensed by Donruss in 2008 —  helps their collectability and, in turn, their values.

Common sense says it should, but it’s not an easy argument when you consider the timeframe for when a majority of those cards were issued — they’re not easy finds, anyway. But there was some strong interest in Jackson’s game-used bat cards released last year by Donruss, so … we’ll see. (Meanwhile, it’s also worth noting that cards from the Pacific set aren’t all that valuable other than offering a lesson in the history of the game. )

Something tells me that in 2010, with a major player in the unlicensed game ready to take the field, that we just might find out.

Chris Olds is the editor of Beckett Baseball and Beckett Graded Card Investor. Have a comment, question or idea? Send an e-mail to him at

2 Comments so far
Leave a comment

I completely forgot it was 90 years – are they doing any special DVD?

Personally, I think the value is in teaching the history of the game.

Comment by James

[…] Eight Men Out There are plenty of scandals for baseball through the years but today is the day, October 1st, 90 years ago that one of the darkest days in baseball officially began. The throwing of the 1919 World Series by the Chicago White Sox, which lead to eight players  being banned from the game for life. Chris Olds of Beckett takes a look at why we don’t see many cards of “The Black Sox” and why that might all change. Check out the story here. […]

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