Shoeless Joe was given his nickname early in his career. He came from poverty and had little schooling, because of this, he had to go to work early as a youngster. He became a "linthead", a term for mill workers in the town of Greenville, South Carolina. While playing for the mill club at $2.50 a day, his feet become blistered while wearing a pair of cleats. He took his shoes off while standing in the batters box and when he got a hit and took off towards first, a fan yelled to him "Joe, you shoeless son of a gun". The nickname stuck and forever more he was known as Shoeless Joe.
Since he could not afford to go to school, he was known to be illiterate, a fact which bothered him deeply. This eventually effected his baseball memorabilia as his sister signed most of his pictures, cards etc. The very few know signatures of his are extremely rare and valuable. A known example was sold at auction in 1990 for $23,500. This makes his signed bat, known as "Black Betsy" extremely rare. The only known signed example was sold to an American collector at a Sotheby's auction for $301,000.
Tomorrow, #6 most valuable sports collectable: the Canadian connection!