Joseph Jefferson “Shoeless Joe” Jackson
Born: July 16, 1887 - Pickens County, SC
Died: December 5, 1951 - Greenville, SC
Career BA: .356
Philadelphia Athletics AL (1908–1909)
Cleveland Naps/Indians AL (1910–1915)
Chicago White Sox AL (1915–1920)
Putting the whole Black Sox scandal off to the side, and looking at pure skills, “Shoeless Joe” Jackson makes our team. Still considered one of the greatest natural hitting talents of the game, Jackson ranks third all time with his .356 career batting average. Defensively, he was superb with good speed.
Jackson came up to the majors as a 19-year-old kid with six years of experience playing organized ball. The oldest of eight children, he started working in textile mills at the young age of seven, and never had the opportunity to learn to read or write. He started playing on the Brandon Mill team at age 13, and quickly moved on to star in Carolina Association semi-pro clubs. There he earned the nickname “Shoeless Joe” when he played a game barefoot because his new baseball shoes weren’t comfortable yet. When Connie Mack brought him up to the majors, Jackson had a difficult time adjusting to big city life. He was homesick and was teased by his teammates for his illiteracy and country ways. After bouncing between Philly and the Carolina league for a few years, Jackson was sold to Cleveland where he blossomed. The smaller city and teammates from the Southern Leagues made him feel at home.
In 1911, his first full year in the majors, Jackson hit an astounding .408 which still stands as a Major League rookie record. Following his .408 season, “Shoeless Joe” batted .395 and .373, banging out 656 hits over those three years. Jackson became such a superstar that when he was sold to Chicago, it was the highest paid deal up to that point in baseball. The 1919 Black Sox scandal put a sad end to Jackson’s career when Baseball Commissioner Kenesaw Mountain Landis banned him for life, along with seven of his teammates. Jackson went on to play and manage several semi-pro teams, and became a businessman in his hometown of Greenville. We are not here to judge the guilt or innocence of Shoeless Joe Jackson. We simply want to give him his just due as a great ballplayer. “Say it ain’t so” Joe Jackson makes the cut and is welcome on our Cracker Jack All-Star Team.
– Tom and Ellen Zappala, The Cracker Jack Collection: Baseball's Prized Players. For more information on their book and/or to order a copy at a special PSA discount, visit http://crackerjackplayers.com/PSA_order.html
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