Baseball fans have always been intrigued by the genesis of Jackson’s legendary Shoeless nickname. That’s because Jackson actually removed his new cleats because of a blister, then batted in his socks and ran the bases shoeless.
Yes, the lore was true. Witnesses indicated that way back in 1906, a heckling fan at an amateur baseball game in Anderson, SC coined the name Shoeless as Joe Jackson ran to third base wearing no cleats.
Joe Jackson Famous For More Than His Shoeless Nickname
Joe Jackson’s Shoeless nickname is not the only thing for which this 12-year major league star is immediately and infamously remembered.
Believed to be illiterate, Jackson could certainly read pitches. He currently retains the third highest batting average in Major League Baseball history. Purportedly, Babe Ruth emulated Jackson’s hitting stance after Shoeless Joe hit .408 as a rookie in 1911, a record that still stands today.
At #12 in my sports comic book Favorite Sports Nicknames, Shoeless Joe Jackson is not immediately recognized for his hitting prowess. Unfortunately, Jackson’s baseball legacy has been forever sullied.
Shoeless Joe Jackson was implicated, but never indicted, in the legendary 1919 World Series scandal memorialized in the movie Eight Men Out. His name is also referenced in movies like The Natural starring Robert Redford, and Field of Dreams starring Kevin Costner.
Shoeless Joe Jackson and seven of his Chicago White Sox teammates were accused of fixing the 1919 Fall Classic in which they lost to the underdog Cincinnati Reds.
Since the White Sox supposedly soiled the game with their scheme, the alleged fix became forever known as the Black Sox Scandal.
Shoeless Joe Jackson Acquitted in 1921
Although acquitted in 1921 by a Chicago Grand Jury, the other White Sox players, along with Jackson, were banned from baseball by newly appointed commissioner Kenesaw Mountain Landis.
Joe Jackson passed away in 1951. He spent nearly 30 years of his post baseball life proclaiming that he was not involved in the scheme.
Major League Baseball records and subsequent accounts point to his innocence. He hit an impressive .375 in the 1919 World Series with error less play in the outfield.
As we look back on this prolific player’s checkered past, it may not be so that he participated in the 1919 Black Sox Scandal.
What is certainly so, and should never be forgotten, is that Shoeless Joe Jackson was a fabulous baseball player.
He’s worthy to be acknowledged as #35 on The Sporting News’ list of the top 100 Major League Baseball players ever.
Note that if you opt to purchase a Sports Memorabilia product, we earn a small commission from each sale. So, thank you.
MIKE – thee ultimate talking head on sports!