Historic Baseball

Historic Baseball

Bringing Baseball History To Center Field

Jackson story stillcaptivating to fansFrom “Eight Men Out” to “Field of Dreams,” the story of South Carolina’s Joe Jackson and his heroics on the field have been brought to millions of people. Probably one of the biggest footnotes on a Hall of Fame career came in the 1919 World Series and the banishment from baseball that would come in 1920.Jackson’s baseball skills surfaced at the age of 13. He was too young to work in the mill, but he became a regular on the Brandon Mill baseball team. When Joe hit a home run, his brothers would pass the hat through the crowd. It wouldn’t be unusual for Jackson to make $25 for his efforts. The early years of his career, Jackson not only played in the field, but he also pitched. He dropped the pitching after he made a wild throw and broke a batter’s arm. The “Shoeless Joe” nickname is credited to Scoop Latimer, a writer for The Greenville News. According to the story, Jackson was breaking in a new pair of cleats in a textile baseball game. When his feet became blistered, Jackson asked to be taken out of the game. His coach refused, so Jackson pulled off his shoes and played in his stockings. Later in the game, when he hit a home run, a fan for the other team shouted, “Oh, you shoeless son of a bitch.” Latimer heard the comment and censored it down to, simply, “Shoeless Joe.” At 19, Jackson left the Brandon Mill team to play for Victor Mill. From there, he moved on to play for the Greenville Spinners of the South Atlantic League. Famed Connie Mack signed Jackson to play for his Athletics. Mack agreed to allow the Greenville Spinners’ manager to accompany Jackson to Philadelphia. The trip wasn’t a long one. Jackson ducked off the train in Charlotte and took another one back to Greenville. Mack was undaunted and soon had Jackson with the Athletics. After the 1909 season, the Athletics traded Jackson to the Cleveland Indians. In his first full season in the major leagues in 1911, Jackson hit .408. Even with that high of an average, he still lost the batting title. Ty Cobb hit .420. Near the end of 1915, the Indians traded Jackson to the Chicago White Sox.Eight players changedgame of baseball in 1919In 1919, Jackson and seven other members of the Chicago White Sox were implicated in fixing the World Series and letting the Cincinnati Reds win. Jackson had a .375 in the series, 12 hits and no errors. Jackson hit the lone home run for the White Sox. Following the 1920 season, the eight players were banned from baseball for life by Commissioner Kennesaw Mountain Landis. Following the ruling, Jackson is said to have played on teams in New York and New Jersey under an assumed name. Later, he joined barnstorming teams with Eddie Cicotte and Lefty Williams, two players who had also been banned as part of the scandal. In 1924, Jackson and the other banned players were reported to have participated in a league in Georgia. Jackson also filed a lawsuit against White Sox owner Charlie Commiskey for back pay. Jackson won the lawsuit and it was later overruled by a judge. Jackson returned to Greenville, South Carolina, where he ran a liquor store and never stayed far from baseball. Jackson is reported to have hit in Textile League games when he was in his late 50s. Jackson died on Dec. 5, 1951, just 10 days before he was scheduled to appear on Ed Sullivan’s “Toast of the Town” in an effort to clear his name. With Jackson’s death the effort to vindicate him was put on hold for many years.