shoeless joe jackson

Update: Manfred denies latest attempt to reinstate Shoeless Joe Jackson

Update: September 1, 2015 6:45 am PT

It’s unfortunate, at least in my opinion, but “Shoeless” Joe Jackson will not be reinstated into Major League Baseball, despite the efforts of the curator of the Greenville, South Carolina museum dedicated to the memory of the famed ballplayer. MLB Commissioner Rob Manfred rejected the petition sent by curator Arlene Marcley in a letter that was retweeted by LA Times baseball writer Bill Shaikin.

Part of Manfred’s letter reads,

“I have reviewed our records concerning the responses of both Commissioner (Bart) Giamatti and Commissioner (Fay) Vincent, who declined to reconsider Mr. Jackson’s case. I agree with that determination and conclude that it would not be appropriate for me to re-open the matter.”

Sadly, Shoeless Joe still remains outside the game and outside of the National Baseball Hall of Fame. Manfred is also listening to the reinstatement petition for another player who admittedly gambled on the game – that is of course, MLB’s all-time hits leader Pete Rose. All I have to say is that Pete really shouldn’t get his hopes up. 🙁

Original Text: August 31, 2015  4:10 pm PT

Could Shoeless Joe Jackson one day be in the National Baseball Hall of Fame?

Most baseball fans know the story of the 1919 Chicago White Sox, better known as the Black Sox. Eight members of the team were accused of each receiving a $5,000 bribe from gamblers to throw the World Series that year against the Cincinnati Reds. The White Sox lost the series and the eight players who were allegedly in on the plot threw the series out of hatred for their notoriously low-paying club owner Charlie Comiskey.

Shoeless Joe Jackson
Shoeless Joe Jackson.

The eight names supposedly involved in, what has always been known as, baseball’s biggest scandal were Eddie Cicotte, Buck Weaver, Lefty Williams, Swede Risberg, Happy Felsch, Chick Gandil, Fred McMullin and probably the most famous of them all, “Shoeless” Joe Jackson. Jackson, who owns a lifetime batting average of .356, is considered one of the best pure hitters the game has ever seen. 

The Black Sox were found not guilty by a jury in a Chicago court, however, baseball’s first commissioner Kenesaw Mountain Landis banned the eight players from the game of baseball for life in 1921. Not one of them has ever been reinstated and gambling still remains the worst of all possible crimes against the game.

There’s been speculation that some of the eight were actually innocent including Cicotte, Weaver and Jackson – mainly being that their numbers during the series did not suffer. There was also speculation that if Jackson did in fact take the bribe that he may not have fully understood what he was getting into, being that it is likely that he couldn’t read and could have been duped by a teammate.

Regardless, Jackson remained banned from the game until his death in 1951 and remains banned to this very day. There appears that there may be a chance for Jackson to be reinstated after all and if he were to be reinstated he’d have a chance to be voted posthumously into the National Baseball Hall of Fame via the Veterans’ Committee. 

There have been many movements over the years to have Jackson reinstated. A formal request filed by Hall of Famers Bob Feller and Ted Williams in 1998 was given “serious” consideration but Jackson still remains out of baseball. A renewed effort was launched in 2008 by the League Park Society in Cleveland, the Cleveland Blues vintage baseball club, the Shoeless Joe Jackson Virtual Hall of Fame and the Shoeless Joe Jackson Museum in Greenville, South Carolina. The petitioning parties still had no luck, but that was under Commissioner Bud Selig.

Selig retired in January and has been replaced by new Commissioner Rob Manfred. Manfred has agreed to hear Pete Rose‘s, who was also banned from the sport for gambling, petition for reinstatement and according to The Greenville News, Manfred also responded to the continued efforts of the curator of the Shoeless Joe Jackson Museum, Arlene Marcley, to reinstate Jackson. 

Marcley recently organized an online petition and had letters sent to Commissioner Manfred on behalf of Jackson. The commissioner has reportedly communicated with Marcley, a fact confirmed by MLB spokesperson Mike Teevan, and has rendered a decision that will be revealed on Tuesday.

The Greenville News released the following statement on Monday,

“Major League Baseball has issued a decision on the reinstatement of Shoeless Joe Jackson, according to Arlene Marcley, curator of the Shoeless Joe Jackson Museum downtown.  Marcley said she has received a decision from MLB commissioner Rob Manfred.  The announcement will be revealed Tuesday morning on the museum’s official Facebook page.”

Shoeless Joe began his career in 1908 with the Philadelphia Athletics. He then spent five and a half seasons in Cleveland before being traded by the Indians to the Chicago White Sox in 1915 for Ed Klepfer, Braggo Roth, a player to be named later and cash. Jackson played the final season of his career in Chicago in 1920 before being banned in 1921.

He led the American League in hits twice, doubles once and three times in number of triples. He never won the league MVP Award but placed a close third in the voting after his 1913 season with Cleveland. After being banned Jackson returned home to Greenville where he ran a liquor store and played semi-professional baseball.

Hopefully, the news on the museum’s Facebook page Tuesday morning will be good news for Shoeless Joe’s many fans, of which I am certainly one. I’ll be keeping my fingers crossed for good news and I hope you will too!

In my opinion, Jackson deserves a place in the National Baseball Hall of Fame and his reinstatement would be the first step towards his eligibility.

 

**By the way, if you don’t know the story of the 1919 Chicago Black Sox – I’d recommend either seeing the movie Eight Men Out or watching Ken Burns’ Documentary: Baseball ^

^(although it’s approximately 20 hours long …. but it’s a fantastic way to learn more about the game!!)
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