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Shoeless Joe Jackson Deserves Justice

Shoeless Joe Jackson

Shoeless Joe Jackson’s Legacy.


The “Black Sox” scandal of the 1919 Chicago White Sox is one of the most disappointing occurrences in the history of major league baseball. It’s a sad day whenever a player, coach, or executive compromises the integrity of the game. And having eight players conspire to throw a World Series compromises that integrity to the fullest extent, whether or not they had their reasons. Chick Gandil, Eddie Cicotte, Swede Risberg, Fred McMullin, Happy Felsch, Buck Weaver, and Lefty Williams all deserve their place in exile for their places in this scandal. But one player does not, that player is Shoeless Joe Jackson.


Why the Scandal Took Place

There are multiple speculations of reasons why the scandal took place to begin with. The most popular assumption is that the players became disgruntled with owner Charles A. Comiskey. For example, it is said that Comiskey once kept Eddie Cicotte from winning his 30th game of the season so that Cicotte could not earn his bonus. Some even said that Comiskey refused to pay for the team’s laundry, however there is little to no proof of these claims. The reason that this reasoning is labeled as pure speculation is because the White Sox had the highest payroll in the American League, as well as the highest average player salary.

There is little to no conclusive reason as to why the fix took place, all that is known is that White Sox players were the ones who reached out to the gamblers first.


The Case for Jackson’s Innocence

There are many reasons to believe that Jackson was innocent. For starters, there is no statistical evidence that Jackson intentionally was playing poorly in order to throw the series. He committed no errors on defense, and was stellar at the plate. He finished the series with a batting average of .375 to go along with one home run, and six RBI. Half of those RBI came in losses as well. Statistics show that he was playing to win.

Additionally, it is stated that Jackson never attended any of the meetings with the gamblers who helped organize the fix. This has lead many to believe that the other seven players included Jackson’s name in the mix in order to convince the gamblers that the series could be fixed.

Lastly, Comiskey ended up signing the star outfielder to a three-year extension after the 1919 World Series. This came after accusations were brought up regarding the series being fixed. It seems Comiskey found Jackson innocent to the point of justifying an extension.

The one blemish in Jackson’s defense is that he confessed to accepting $5,000 from the gamblers. However, Jackson and others believed that he was tricked into this confession, one way or another. It is said that Jackson was either falsely promised immunity or tricked into signing a confession. Either of the two are plausible, seeing as how Jackson was illiterate and uneducated. Unfortunately, a grand jury did not believe that he was promised immunity.


Time to Do the Right Thing

It is time that the Baseball Hall of Fame did not just the bold thing, but the right thing. His stats are undisputable and his participation in the Black Sox scandal is debatable at best. Shoeless Joe Jackson belongs in the Baseball Hall of Fame.

(Evidence for this article is credited to Bill Lamb’s “The Black Sox Scandal” article, published by the Society for American Baseball Research)

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Main Photo:
Embed from Getty Images

Players Mentioned:

Chick Gandil, Eddie Cicotte, Swede Risberg, Fred McMullin, Happy Felsch, Buck Weaver, Lefty Williams, Shoeless Joe Jackson


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