Shoeless Joe Jackson
Over the years, Shoeless Joe Jackson has taken on a mythical quality. Even his name suggests someone born to play ball without even the encumbrance of footwear.
He’s also been immortalized in film. The original characterization of Roy Hobbs in the book “The Natural” was based heavily on him, and some of that carried over to the movie (to wit: His named special bat). Ray Liotta played him in “Field of Dreams,” a movie based on a book called “Shoeless Joe.” And D.B. Sweeney played him in “Eight Men Out,” John Sayles’ telling of the 1919 World Series fix.
Redemption for Shoeless Joe Jackson was on the agenda this week in 1951. The legislature in his home state of South Carolina asked Major League Baseball to reinstate Jackson, who was one of eight players banned in the wake of allegations that he and some White Sox teammates conspired to throw the 1919 World Series.
On its face, the reinstatement would have been no good to Jackson. He was well past his playing days at that point, and a heart attack three years earlier had forced him to give up playing semi-pro ball. And it wasn’t at his behest, either. He’d asked for reinstatement in 1931, but it was denied by Commissioner Kenesaw Mountain Landis – the man who’d banned him in the first place.
The South Carolina effort went for naught, but later that year, his greatness was recognized – by fans – and he got into a hall of fame.
One of the game’s greats from a bygone era remains excluded from the other legends within the National Baseball Hall of Fame.
You know his story. You have seen him represented in several well-performing movies. Yet, nearly a century after his banishment, he remains an outsider in the hallowed halls of baseball history.
Shoeless Joe Jackson was one of the greatest players to ever wear a Cleveland uniform on the diamond, but it appears that his absence from the storied hall of legends will not change any time soon.
On Sept. 23, the Indians were clinging to a 1 ½ game lead over the White Sox as the two teams started a three-game series at League Park. There were 10 games left to play, and the pennant was still up for grabs.
But the White Sox had other things to worry about. The grand jury impaneled to look into allegations of the fixing of a Phillies-Cubs game had started hearing testimony that was regarded as unthinkable: That the White Sox had thrown the previous year’s World Series.
“The last World Series between the Chicago White Sox and Cincinnati Reds was not on the square,” Assistant State’s Attorney Hartley Replogle said. “From five to seven players on the White Sox team are involved.”
In 1916, Cleveland Indians owner Charles Somers was looking for someone – anyone – to buy his team.
Somers bought into the American League when it was founded as a major league in 1901. In addition to the team then called the Blues, he also owned Boston’s American League club – ultimately divesting of it in 1908 – and floated loans to the St. Louis Browns, Chicago White Sox and Philadelphia Athletics.
Somers also owned several minor league teams, including the Toledo Mud Hens, which he moved to Cleveland in 1914 to forestall a Federal League team from playing in League Park. The Federal League had operated as a minor league in 1913, but was going to challenge Major League Baseball’s supremacy starting the next year.