The “Field of Dreams” game between the New York Yankees and Chicago White Sox made me reflect on Joseph Jefferson Jackson – “Shoeless Joe.” In my opinion, “Shoeless” Joe Jackson represents the epitome of ballplayers who have been unjustly banished from baseball.
The conspiracy to throw the 1919 World Series, the notorious “Black Sox Scandal,” is one of baseball’s darkest moments. However, the debarment of Joe Jackson for his “involvement” in the fix remains a controversial topic.
It is now known that “Shoeless” Joe Jackson refused the $5,000 bribe on two separate occasions. Additionally, Joe Jackson attempted to inform Charles Comiskey, the miserly owner of the White Sox, about the fix. Comiskey, however, declined to meet with Joe Jackson. Years later, players who were implicated in the scandal admitted that Jackson did not actively participate in the fix.
Jackson’s performance during the 1919 World Series lends credence to his “innocence.” Joe Jackson had a fantastic series! He was 12-for-32 (a .375 batting average); he was 5-for-12 with runners in scoring position. Joe Jackson hit the Series’ lone home run, and he was credited with 6 RBI.
Unfortunately, Joe Jackson remains on Major League Baseball’s ineligible list, which precludes his election to the Hall of Fame. Efforts to reinstate Joe Jackson have been futile. In 1989, MLB commissioner A. Bartlett Giamatti declined to reinstate Joe Jackson. In 2015, Commissioner Rob Manfred concluded that “. . .It is not possible now, over 95 years since these events took place and were considered by Commissioner Landis, to be certain enough of the truth to overrule Commissioner Landis’ determination.”
It has been some 100 years since Joe Jackson played left field in the Major Leagues. After a century of being banned from baseball – a banishment that has been enforced on paltry, controversial evidence – it is time for MLB to correct that egregious error. It is time for baseball to reinstate Joe Jackson and elect him to the Hall of Fame – where he rightfully belongs.
John Di Genio