“Shoeless” Joe Jackson is Innocent

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Photo Credit: photo via wikicommons under creative commons license

During his 12 year career, Shoeless Joe Jackson played on three different MLB teams.

By: Colin Thompson, reporter

“Shoeless” Joe Jackson was a famous baseball player that was involved in one of the game’s most famous scandals. Many people feel that he is innocent. Is he really?

“Shoeless Joe” was born Joseph Jeffrey Jackson in Pickens County, South Carolina. He got his start playing baseball on amateur teams run by mills. That was were he got his nickname of “Shoeless” after a fan saw him running the bases without cleats one day. In 1908 he finally got onto an MLB team, the Greenville Spinners. He bounced around and finally ended up on the Cleveland Naps in 1911. It was there he got his career off the ground and made a name for himself as an outstanding baseball player. In 1915 he was traded to the Chicago White Sox, where he helped them to win a World Series in 1917. They went back in 1919 and lost to the Cincinnati Reds, and that was where the famous scandal was born.

Allegedly, Shoeless Joe and seven other players accepted a $5,000 bribe ($74,000 today) to throw the series. The court acquitted them;  However the commissioner at the time, Kenesaw Mountain Landis, imposed a lifelong ban on all 8 players who took part in the scandal. Even though he has this shameful mark on his record, he is still considered one of the greatest players to ever play the game.

His career batting average of .356 is 3rd all time, and in 1911 he became one of the few players to ever hit a .400 batting average with an average of .408. He also hit that as a rookie, which is the highest for a rookie all-time. He was on par with guys like Ty Cobb and Honus Wagner. These are two of the greatest baseball players of all time. Babe Ruth even admired the guy saying “I copied my swing after Joe Jackson’s.” He would have easily made the inaugural class of the Hall of Fame in 1936.

The 1919 White Sox Scandal, more commonly known as the Black Sox Scandal. This is one of the most famous scandals in baseball history. It ruined the career of 8 baseball players. Most notably, is keeping Shoeless Joe Jackson out of the Baseball Hall of Fame. But many people argue for his innocence and for good reason, many signs say he didn’t participate. The first sign of evidence was his play during the series, which was one of the best World Series performances by a player in history. He hit a .375 batting average, hit the series’ only home run, had a record 12 hits, committed no errors, and threw out a runner at the plate. He also didn’t attend any of the meetings with the gambling ring. Other members of the scandal admitted this. There have also been many other credible sources that have backed up his innocence.

The Chicago Lawyer and The American Statistician both reviewed the case and made claims to his innocence. In November 1999, the U.S. House of Representatives even passed a resolution to the MLB to rescind the ban on Shoeless Joe. The main problem that is keeping anything from changing is that these claims are all just speculation. There is still no concrete evidence Shoeless Joe is innocent or not since the deed took place so long ago.

This also poses the problem of other offenders that aught to be in the Hall of Fame. Notable names include Pete Rose, Barry Bonds, Mark McGuire, and others. But I believe that Shoeless Joe is different from the others, as his guilt is much more questionable. So I think that the guys at MLB should take him off the ban list. They should finally get him into the Hall of Fame; it’s been a long time coming.

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