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Shoeless Joe Jackson

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Shoeless Joe Jackson
Batted: Left Threw: Right
MLB Debut
August 25, 1908 for the Philadelphia Athletics
Final game
September 27, 1920 for the Chicago White Sox
Career Statistics
Batting Average     .356
Home Runs     54
Runs Batted In     785

Philadelphia Athletics (1908 - 1909)
Cleveland Naps (1910 - 1915)
Chicago White Sox (1915 - 1920)

Career Highlights and Awards
  • 3rd Highest Career Batting Average
  • Hit .408 in 1911

Joseph Jefferson "Shoeless Joe" Jackson (July 16, 1888December 5, 1951) was a left fielder in Major League Baseball who played for the Philadelphia Athletics, Cleveland Indians and Chicago White Sox. One of the greatest hitters of his era, he was one of eight players made permanently ineligible for Major League Baseball for his alleged participation in the Black Sox scandal. No player banned from baseball, including Jackson, has been inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame, and once Pete Rose was placed on the permanently-ineligible list in 1991, the Hall of Fame changed its bylaws to prohibit induction of banned players.

Early life and careerEdit

Born in Pickens County, South Carolina, Jackson came from a poor family living in a mill town, and he was unschooled as a child, remaining illiterate well into middle age. He is considered to be one of the most outstanding hitters in the history of the game, to the point that Babe Ruth claimed that he modeled his hitting technique after Jackson's. Jackson is the only rookie (under today's definition) to have batted over .400; he hit .408 for Cleveland in 1911 (although he was generally not be considered a rookie by that day's usual practice). His career .356 batting average is the third highest in history, after Ty Cobb (.366) and Rogers Hornsby (.358)


The nickname "Shoeless" came from when he played for the team sponsored by the mill where he worked before he played in the major leagues. Suffering from a blister due to a new, stiff pair of cleat shoes and forced to play when a team mate didn't show up for a game, he took his shoes off before he went to hit, and when he got to base a fan started yelling inappropriate and vulgar comments at him. One of the things he was called was a "shoeless son-of-a-bitch." The name stuck with him all the way to the major leagues.

The nickname was used for the character of "Shoeless Joe" in the Broadway play Damn Yankees and as the basis of the song in the play "Shoeless Joe from Hannibal Mo."

Black Sox scandalEdit

Main article: Black Sox Scandal

After the White Sox unexpectedly lost the 1919 World Series to the Cincinnati Reds, eight players, including Jackson, were accused of "throwing" games. In September 1920, a grand jury was convened to investigate. Jackson admitted under oath that he participated in the fix, and accepted $5,000 as part-payment for his cooperation (a sum he claimed to have attempted to return twice). He also admitted to complaining to other conspirators that he had not received his full share. The then-current owner of the Sox, Charles Comiskey, encouraged Jackson to admit these things. A jury, however, acquitted him of criminal charges related to the scandal, although the trial itself has been the subject of suspicion, with key evidence purportedly having gone missing from the prosecutor's office shortly before the trial.[citation needed] Jackson was found guilty of not reporting the scandal.

Jackson always publicly maintained his innocence and insisted until his death that he was playing his best in the Series. He had a .375 batting average, threw out five baserunners, and handled thirty chances in the outfield with no errors during that series. However, he batted far worse in the five games that the White Sox lost, totalling only one RBI, from a home run in game 8 once the game was 5-0 for the Reds. The Cincinnati Reds also hit an unusually high number of triples to left field during the series, far exceeding the amount that Jackson—generally considered a strong defensive player—normally allowed.[1] Arguably, this could be seen as Jackson attempting the fix the games through inaction, although another possible explanation could be simple game to game ups and downs in performance, typical of even the most elite baseball players.

One play in particular has been subjected to much scrutiny. In the fifth inning of game 4, with a Cincinnati player on second, Jackson fielded a single hit to left field and threw home. Eyewitness accounts say that the throw would have resulted in an out had pitcher Eddie Cicotte, one of the leaders of the fix, not interfered.[citation needed] The run scored and the White Sox lost the game 2-0. James C. Hamilton—the official scorer of the 1919 World Series—testified under oath in a later civil trial between Jackson and Charles Comiskey that the throw was honest and that Cicotte jumped up and knocked it down for an error.[citation needed] Chick Gandil, another leader of the fix, admitted to yelling at Cicotte to intercept the throw in his autobiography.[citation needed]
Cobb Jackson

Ty Cobb and Joe Jackson in Cleveland, 1913


After being banned from the majors, Jackson played extensively in semipro leagues in Georgia and South Carolina. In 1929 he and his wife, Katherine, moved to Greenville, South Carolina.

In the 1940s, he was working at his liquor store when former adversary Ty Cobb and sportswriter Grantland Rice entered as customers. Following an impersonal transaction, Cobb asked, "Don't you know me, Joe?" "Sure, I know you, Ty," replied Jackson, "but I wasn't sure you wanted to know me. A lot of them don't." [citation needed]

Joe Jackson suffered from heart trouble in his later years and died in Greenville in 1951 at the age of 63. He is buried in Woodlawn Memorial Park there. Jackson's last words before his death were reportedly "I'm about to face the greatest umpire of all and He knows I am innocent." Shoeless Joe Jackson was the first of the 8 suspended "Black Sox" players to die. (Swede Risberg was the last to die in 1975)

Career statisticsEdit

see: Baseball statistics for an explanation of these statistics.


His .356 batting average is the third-highest career batting average behind only Ty Cobb and Rogers Hornsby. His 1911 batting average of .408 is the sixth highest for a season in the twentieth century and the highest ever by a player in their rookie season.

Despite being banned from baseball at what should have been roughly the two-thirds mark of his career, and being excluded from election to the Hall of Fame, in 1999, he ranked Number 35 on The Sporting News' list of the 100 Greatest Baseball Players, and was nominated as a finalist for the Major League Baseball All-Century Team.


  • "Shoeless: The Life And Times of Joe Jackson", by David L. Fleitz (2001, McFarland & Company Publishers)
  • Shoeless Joe, a novel by W. P. Kinsella
  • Eight Men Out, by Eliot Asinof, an account of the 1919 World Series fix
  • Joe Jackson: A Biography, by Kelly Boyer Sagert
  • Say It Ain't So, Joe!: The True Story of Shoeless Joe Jackson, by Donald Gropman, also includes the Ted Williams and Bob Feller Petition to admit Jackson into the Baseball Hall of Fame
  • A Man Called Shoeless, by Howard Burman
  • "Burying the Black Sox" (Potomac, Spring 2006) by Gene Carney.
  • "Shoeless Joe & Me" (HarperCollins, 2002) by Dan Gutman


  • Eight Men Out, directed by John Sayles, based on the Asinof book and starring D.B. Sweeney as Jackson
  • Field of Dreams, based on the Kinsella book, with Ray Liotta as Jackson

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