Lot # 196: 1920 Billy Maharg Original Type 1 News Service Photo by NEA - Liaison Between Players & Gamblers During 1919 World Series Fix! (PSA/DNA)

Starting Bid: $100.00

Bids: 17 (Bid History)

Time Left: Auction closed
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Item was in Auction "Spring, 2024 Premier Auction",
which ran from 3/11/2024 12:00 AM to
3/30/2024 9:00 PM

Original news service photo depicting Billy Maharg, one of the men responsible for facilitating the most scandalous series of events in baseball history: the fixing of the 1919 World Series. Maharg, along with his partner "Sleepy Bill" Burns not only worked to secure gambler Arnold Rothstein and others to help bankroll the plot, it was Maharg's initial admission published in the September 27, 1920 edition of the Philadelphia North American (shown in this listing for reference) that confirmed several games of the 1919 World Series had been rigged. Evidently, $100,000 had been promised to the players though only a portion of that sum was ever delivered to those involved. Several days after Maharg's revelation was published both Eddie Cicotte and Shoeless Joe Jackson stood before a Cook County grand jury in Chicago and confessed under oath to their involvement in the scandal, with the other co-conspirators soon to follow. The Black Sox criminal trial began in June, 1921 and on August 2 all players accused were controversially acquitted by the jury. Despite their acquittal, baseball's new commissioner Judge Kenesaw Mountain Landis saw fit to permanently ban all eight "Black Sox" from organized baseball for life, banishing them to toil in obscure outlaw leagues for the balance of their careers. The presented 6.5" x 8.5" original news service photo of Billy Maharg represents the solitary example we are aware of in the hobby. It has been reproduced numerous times online as very few images of Maharg appear extant in any form. Significantly, affixed to verso remains a newspaper caption detailing Maharg's "Sensational Expose in Baseball Gambling Scandal" along with an NEA date stamp of Oct. 5, 1920. Full LOA from PSA/DNA


Further research into Maharg reveals that he appeared in two major league games in rather odd fashion. On May 15, 1912, with the Detroit Tigers striking due to a suspension of superstar Ty Cobb, Maharg was recruited as one of 12 replacement players. Unsurprisingly, the hometown Philadelphia Athletics routed the "Tigers" 24-2. Several years later, on October 5, 1916, the Philadelphia Phillies trotted out Maharg (their assistant trainer/driver) to pinch hit in the 8th inning of the final game of the season. He then played the field in the bottom of the 9th but saw no action.

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