My fascination for this particuliar ballplayer began about twenty years ago, when my hubby took me along to a baseball card show of which he has been an avid collector since 1950. I found myself viewing rows upon rows of baseball cards..and decided to begin a collection of my own. The cards that I was drawn to mostly were T206’s..turn of the century ‘tobacco cards’. It was here that I first learned about Joe Jackson and the famous 1919 World Series…and I’ve been collecting cards and memorabilia ever since. Our golden retriever Jackson was named after Shoeless Joe.. my online screen name for many of the games I enjoy playing is Shoeless Joe. Clearly, you can say I’m a fan AND that Shoeless Joe deserves to be in the Baseball Hall of Fame!
Joe Jackson was the greatest natural hitter to ever grace the diamond. He was banished from baseball for his complicity in the 1919 Black Sox scandel…even though the US judicial system found him innocent. And yet his memory still moves across the conscience of America. Shoeless Joe never had to “say it wasn’t so”..for the people who knew him best never questioned his integrity.
The glove of Shoeless Joe Jackson is described as…”the place that triples go to die”. His quick instincts and precise skill at measuring the angle of the ball as it traveled off the bat made Jackson, perhaps the greatest fielder the game has ever seen. Unfortunately for Shoeless Joe, his career .356 lifetime batting average… the third best of all-time, behind Ty Cobb and Rogers Hornsby and unmatched outfield prowess will forever be overshadowed by the Black Sox scandel. Over thirteen glorious seasons with the Athletics, Indians, and White Sox…Jackson led the league in triples…eight times, batted over the .340 mark eight different times, and even hit .408 in the 1911 season. In the 1919 Series that he supposedly help fix, he had the most hits, twelve (12) and not a single error and was such an inspiration that Babe Ruth chose to copy his swing. Would you really be throwing the game and bat like this?
Often maligned and misunderstood during his lifetime, Joe Jackson has become a folk hero after his death. History tells us Shoeless Joe could not read and could only write his name. Yes, they tried to remove his presence from the game–but his black bat Betsy and slashing swings will allow him to always be remembered as one of our national pastime’s greatest legends.
Did you know?
Joe got his nickname ‘Shoeless’ when he was playing for the Greenville Club in 1908. Joe had bought a new pair of spikes and they wore blisters on his feet. The next game the blisters hurt Joe’s feet so much, that he took off his spikes..and played in his stocking feet. About the 7th inning, Joe hit a triple and was coming into third, when some big palooka in the stands stood up and hollered… ‘You shoeless son of a gun’. Although Joe had only played one game without his spikes, he would forever be known as ‘Shoeless Joe’, a nickname he preferred not to be called.
Joe had a name for all his bats–his most famous was …. Black Betsy!
Contrary to popular beleif, the name Black Sox was not given to the 1919 White Sox because of the 1919 World Series scandel. The name was given to them–because they played in dirty uniforms…because their owner Charles Comisky used to charge the players 25 cents for cleaning their uniforms. The players refused to pay to have their uniforms cleaned and chose to play in dirty ones..hence the name ‘black sox’.
Joe Jackson is one of the only two people that held a batting title for two different teams ( Chicago White Sox & Cleveland Indians). Rod Carew is the other (Angels & Twins).
There is no richer and more colorful history in sports than that of baseball, and Shoeless Joe’s saga is definitely something that needs revisiting. He was banned for life and his life has been over for nearly sixty years now. It’s time to recognize what this man was on the field..one of the best ( if the the best) of his time. The Hall of Fame is not what it should be without Joe being enshrined.
” The one constant through all the years, has been baseball. America has rolled by like an army of steamrollers. It’s been erased like a blackboard, rebuilt, and erased again. But…. baseball has marked the time. The fields, the game, the players…. are all a part of our pasts. It reminds us all of what was once good.” By James Earl Jones… in Field of Dreams and one of my favorite lines of all time in a movie.
Peaches Graham, Matthewson, Joe, Ty Cobb, & Wagner –my first tobacco cards
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