Noted baseball artist Monty Sheldon is commemorating the 90th anniversary of the Black Sox scandal with a series of eight hand-drawn and intricately detailed pencil sketch cards that he will complete, unveil and sell on the anniversary of each game from the 1919 World Series.
His “Eight Men Out” concept is an interesting piece of self-promotion — he already sells his Sheldon’s Sketch Card Champions cards, which are part of a larger set weekly on eBay (user rube77) — but this project will acknowledge the history of the game and, with the auctions’ subjects and timing, also perhaps bring some attention to one of baseball’s more interesting stories.
But it’s also a project that ties into his creative past.
“When I first started painting on baseballs back in 1998, I knew the following year would be the 80th anniversary of the Black Sox scandal, and I finished painting a baseball of each player to correspond with each game’s date,” Sheldon said on Friday afternoon. “Back then, that group of baseballs proved to be quite popular when I would display them at the card shows.
“Now, it is 10 years later, and I wanted to add something special to my sketch card set, so the 90th anniversary set made perfect sense.”
The eight Chicago White Sox players forever banned from baseball for conspiring to throw the 1919 Series vs. the Cincinnati Reds are the subjects. There will be a sketch card for each game and each card will be signed and finished 90 years to the day that the game was played.
The auctions will begin next week with the seven-day auctions opening at 19:19 (10:19 p.m. Eastern, 7:19 p.m. Pacific).
Thursday, Oct. 1 (Game 1) — Eddie Cicotte (card No. 192)
Friday, Oct. 2 (Game 2) — Lefty Williams (card No. 193)
Oct. 3 (Game 3) — Swede Risberg (card No. 194)
Oct. 4 (Game 4) — Buck Weaver (card No. 195)
Oct. 6 (Game 5) — Fred McMullin (card No. 196)
Oct. 7 (Game 6) — Chick Gandil (card No. 197)
Oct. 8 (Game 7) — Happy Felsch (card No. 198)
Oct. 9 (Game 8) — “Shoeless” Joe Jackson (card No. 199)
And the checklist has some subtle ties as well. For example, Cicotte was the starter for Game 1, giving up six earned runs in 3 2/3 innings. That’s in sharp contrast to his season statistics — he went 29-7 with a 1.82 ERA in 306-plus innings.
Each of Sheldon’s past cards from the series — all one-of-a-kind pieces of art — sold in the last month have topped $100, but there are other sketch cards that have routinely sold for more.
Many of the notable baseball cards featuring the Black Sox players are immensely pricey — often too pricey for many, many collectors — but a project like this is one that just might let baseball fans who appreciate the game’s past pick up a very unique card, a piece of art, for a lot less money.
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 firstname.lastname@example.org.