On September 2, 2023, the world said goodbye to singer Jimmy Buffett at age 76. Best known for his hit song “Margaritaville,” James William Buffett was born the year after another James finally hung up his spikes. This would be James Emory Foxx, also known as “The Beast,” “XX,” and a whole smorgasbord of James diminutives, i.e., a Jimmy buffet!
Early in his career, many of Foxx’s cards listed him as Jimmy. This Exhibits card (1925-31) provides just one example.
However, the Jimmy designation was hardly universal. For example, here is his 1927 W560 playing card, which lists him simply as Jim.
Foxx first appears as Jimmie on his W517 cards, issued in 1931.
However, the Jimmy spelling continues on with many of his early 1930s cards, for example his 1933 DeLong and Goudey cards.
That same year, in the very tough Worch Cigars set, Foxx appears for the first time only as James, no diminutive added.
The following year we still see Foxx as Jimmy, only now there is variation in his surname. Before correcting the error, the 1934 Butterfinger Premiums set had XX as single-X only.
Advance a year to the 1935 release of National Chicle Diamond Stars, and all is good in the world. We at last are back to Jimmie Foxx…
…at least until we flip the card over!
Evidently undecided for their Diamond Stars set in 1935, National Chicle settled on Jimmy in 1936 for their 1936 Batter Up card. However, confusion continued to rule the day as they listed him with the Reds rather than Red Sox..
Covering their bases fully in 1936, National Chicle went with Fox on the card the slugger shared with Hall of Famers Al Simmons and Mickey Cochrane.
Okay, check that. Covering their bases would have also entailed a Jimmey card because why not. Not a problem. They did that too.
Meanwhile, north of the border, the folks at World Wide Gum (also known as Canadian Goudey), were equally undecided on spelling. Here is Jimmy on the front and Jimmie on the back. Note also the spelling of Big League Chewing Gum if you needed proof that spellcheck wasn’t around back then.
Remaining in Canada for the 40-card 1937 O-Pee-Chee issue, we see perhaps the funniest treatment of Foxx’s name. It comes in the opening line of Foxx’s bio: “Note spelling of Foxx,” or if you prefer the French, “Remarquez comment a écrit ce nom Foxx.”
Based on the bios of the other players in the set, all of which begin with the players age, birthdate, or birthplace, I believe Foxx’s opening line is actually an editorial direction rather than anything intended for final copy! At any rate, at least it shows attention to detail…sort of.
Moving to 1938, stop me if you’ve seen this one before. Here is the Goudey “Heads Up” set giving us Jimmy on the front and Jimmie on the back.
Foxx’s post-career cardboard continued to be ambivalent as to his correct first name, though nearly all of his cards released in the past 20 years seem to have settled on Jimmie, though as recently as 2012 Panini partied like it was 1935 with a Jimmie front, Jimmy back card. Still, collectors nostalgic for Jimmy need only go as far as Cooperstown where Foxx’s Hall of Fame plaque and postcard both use Jimmy.
At least as far as cardboard is concerned, Foxx may have had even more identities than Boston teammate Moe Berg. On one hand we can regard this as confusing, but on the other we can call it variety. James, Jim, Jimmy, Jimmie, Jimmy…it’s all there at the Jimmy buffet, as are Foxx and Fox, Reds and Sox. I know it’s all a bit overwhelming, but that’s where the words of a great songwriter come in: “If life gives you limes, make margaritas!”
Rest in peace, Jimmy Buffett, 1946-2023