‘Shoeless’ Joe glove gets collectors’ attention

glove2.jpgTwo of the magical names in glove collecting: “Shoeless” Joe Jackson and Draper Maynard, “The Lucky Dog Kind.” It was supposedly there all in one package. For the first time. Only it was not to be.

The listing popped up on the eBay at a whopping $9,895, likely the highest price ever asked on a stamped autograph glove, way out in front of the Ruths and Gehrigs. Its description read glowingly like this:

“A Joe Jackson white Draper & Maynard model G24L from around 1920. Now that it is known, this may be the most sought after glove in the hobby; maybe THE Holy Grail for collectors of endorsed gloves. It is the first and most likely the only one that will ever surface, which would make it a true one-of-a-kind.

This glove is uncataloged and a “mystery.”  Could it have been a test glove or something that was designed by D&M, but dropped because of the banishment of Jackson from baseball by Judge Landis?  The style and construction pinpoints it to the 1920 time period; Shoeless Joe was banned after the 1920 season for his involvement in the 1919 Black Sox scandal. One Grover Alexander white D&M glove and one Dazzy Vance white D&M glove from the same period have surfaced, uncataloged and previously unknown.

What were the histories on those two gloves? Who knows? No matter what the history on this Jackson glove is, it is what it is – a glove that collectors dream of owning. This is a period piece that would have been manufactured during Jackson’s career, not like the handful of Jackson Nokona gloves that were manufactured in the 1940’s; long after Jackson was banished from the game. How many Babe Ruth gloves have surfaced in the hobby?  Probably more than 100.

How many Draper & Maynard Joe Jackson model gloves? One. This is it!
This beautiful top-quality adult-sized glove is in great condition, showing use and no abuse.  The white has dulled and could be greatly enhanced by cleaning; something I never cared to do. It has no problems. The piping, stitching, lacing, etc. are in top shape. The lining is smooth. The stampings are light, but easily read, much easier than the photos show; one of the photos was taken outside and the other inside.  The button on the backstrap is nice, and the D&M Lucky Dog patch is beautiful.

This glove is to be sold. Once a sale price is established, I will seriously consider trade in lieu of partial payment. If you are inclined to try to do that, we need to talk prior to the completion of the eBay sales process.”

 Immediately on the Internet’s “Glove Forum” a controversy broke out over the glove’s veracity. On one side were apparent friends of the seller and several other veteran glove aficionados. On the other, the glove world’s doubting Thomases. This Jackson glove came under scrutiny, not only that it was the first Joe Jackson Draper & Maynard glove to come up in the hobby records which raised a flag, but also that its stamping was suspect. The D&M stamping coloring was unlike the normal black ink found in most D&M models, in fact the name was also at an odd angle to the center of the glove.

The glove’s believers used the argument that other prominent names had shown up on Draper & Maynard gloves like Grover Alexander and Dazzy Vance, which had never been documented. The problem with this end of the debate was that Jackson’s name could have only appeared in a short time frame; from 1917 when Draper & Maynard began using some endorsement names to 1920. After 1920, because Jackson was banned from baseball, no one touched the name until the late 1930s when Nocona began a “Joe Jackson” model, carrying the glove or Jackson gloves in its line until about 1951.

Jackson had been listed in the Draper &  Maynard catalogs as using a G56 glove and had even been featured in an ad by the company. But this was not a G56, the model he used, (Ruth also used a Draper & Maynard G41 and the same store model as his gamer was listed with the company). This became another reason to doubt the veracity of the glove. The Jackson glove being offered was on a G24L, a glove “Buck” Herzog helped design for D&M and likely would have borne his name.

The Glove Collector had first heard of the glove a year or so earlier when it was listed by a sports memorabilia dealer. It was questioned then in the “Glove Collector Newsletter.” We were also contacted by the new owner after the purchase was made and by another interested buyer in the glove.
When the glove didn’t receive a bid after seven days, the auction was closed and the owner submitted the glove to MEARS authentication service. Then came the bad news … for the owner.

The report, which was published on the MEARS website, went something like this:

“We were just submitted a white buck skin style fielders glove, a Draper Maynard model that had Joe Jackson in blue ink script in the palm. We could find no sign of any factory imprint, have never, ever seen one of these stamped with blue ink and the area in the palm where the name now rests has been heavily worked. It is our opinion that the glove simply had the name Joe Jackson written in pen and not a factory job. Dave Bushing.”

The owner was deeply chagrined. What had happened evidently with the glove’s owner and his friends might have been what they describe in the movie business about audiences when their credulity is stretched as  “suspension of disbelief.”  One of the hardest obstacles to overcome in memorabilia is that it isn’t good, especially when you want to believe in your antique and you have invested your heart and some money in it.

The glove owner, in the process of returning the glove to its original seller, wrote to the glove community: “I am embarrassed by this whole situation and trusted my own evaluation and that of other unnamed persons. It was a mistake and, in addition to my deep embarrassment, which, at my age, I can deal with, I fear that there are some people who will incorrectly brand me as dishonest.  That, to me, is one of the worst things I could inadvertently bring upon myself.”

This brings to the forefront the problem that arises, not only in the glove collection hobby, but also in all sports collectibles, that of the verification process. Luckily our sports collectible hobby has some sources of reliable authenticators in virtually every niche. Autographs and game-used equipment probably present the biggest equations to narrow down.
Meanwhile, here are some tips. Challenge all items you purchase. Buy from sellers you trust. It’s like they used to say in the old horse-trading days,

“Look the horse in the mouth.” The same applies to the old horsehide like the Jackson glove was made from.

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