Shoeless Joe Jackson

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Updated On May 5, 2023

American baseball player Joseph Jefferson Jackson was a standout outfielder for several Major League Baseball (MLB) clubs at the pinnacle of his career. His great on-field performance was marred by his suspected involvement in the Black Sox Scandal, earning him the moniker Shoeless Joe, which made him famous. Jackson, a native of South Carolina, was a baseball prodigy even as a young child. One of Brandon Mill’s proprietors persuaded his mother to allow him to join the baseball club when he was 13 years old. He had to wait another eight years before making it to the Major League, where he played for the Chicago White Sox, Cleveland Indians, and Philadelphia Athletics. He was a talented left fielder who still owns the Indians and White Sox franchise marks for triples in a season, career hitting average, and the third-highest batting average in big league history. Jackson was suspected of accepting money from a gambling ring in 1919 along with seven other Chicago White Sox players in exchange for the team’s World Series loss to the Cincinnati Reds. Jackson and other players were thereby permanently barred from playing professional baseball despite being found not guilty during an open trial in 1921. His guilt has been hotly contested in America throughout the succeeding years. Jackson, who was forced to quit at the height of his career, managed and played for a number of minor league clubs before starting a dry cleaning company with his wife. On The Sporting News’ list of the 100 greatest baseball players in 1999, he came in at number 35.

Early Childhood & Life

Joseph Jefferson Jackson, the eldest child of Martha and sharecropper George Jackson, was born on July 16, 1887, in Pickens County, South Carolina. Early in his youth, he moved his family to Pelzer, South Carolina.
A few years later, the family was forced to relocate once more, this time to Brandon Mill, a corporate town outside of Greenville, South Carolina. He had a severe case of measles when he was ten years old. For two months, his mother cared for him while he lay immobile in bed.

At the age of six or seven, he started working as a “linthead” in the town’s textile mills. Gertrude Trammell was the name of his brother. Jackson spent the remainder of his life without receiving an education since his family lacked the resources to do so. He worked a 12-hour shift every day to help his poor family.
His mother permitted him to play for the baseball club at Brandon Mill since he had a lifelong passion in sports. Jackson’s career as a baseball player thus officially began.

He received $2.50 per Saturday to participate because he was the team’s youngest player. He began playing in the games as a pitcher, but the team manager moved him to the outfield after he unintentionally broke another player’s arm with a fastball. His striking prowess afterward made him well-liked in his hometown. He received a baseball bat during this time, which he eventually called “Black Betsy.”

He had developed into a semi-professional by 1905 and was playing for the teams in each mill town as he traveled. During one of these games in Greenville, South Carolina, he earned the moniker “Shoeless Joe.” Jackson had to remove his shoes since his new cleats had given him blisters on his foot. He was batting when a heckler yelled, “You shoeless son of a gun, you!” after noticing his feet. He spent the rest of his life going by the moniker that resulted.

Career of Shoeless Joe Jackson

Shoeless Joe Jackson signed up with the Greenville Spinners in 1908, which marked the start of his professional baseball playing career. He accepted a contract with Connie Mack that year to play baseball for the Philadelphia Athletics.

He first had considerable difficulty adjusting to life as a professional athlete in a big metropolis like Philadelphia. Additionally, it was said that his teammates regularly hazed him. Only ten professional games were played by him in the 1908–09 year.

He was traded by the Athletics to the Cleveland Naps in 1910. Jackson had a.408 batting average and led the league with a.468 on-base percentage in 1911, his first complete season after spending most of his rookie campaign with the Naps in the minors.

His average rose to.395 the next year, and he led the American League in hits, triples, and total bases. Jackson had the privilege of scoring the first run at Tiger Stadium on April 20, 1912. With 197 hits and a.551 slugging percentage in 1913, he was once again in first place in the league.

In 1915, Jackson was traded once more. He played a key role in the Chicago White Sox winning the American League pennant and the World Series while he was a member of the team. He had a strong World Series performance for the White Sox, hitting.307 against the New York Giants.

Jackson was assigned to work in a shipyard as World War I started, missing most of the 1918 campaign. He came back the next year, with a respectable.351 average in the regular season and a.375 average with flawless fielding in the World Series. But the White Sox fell to the Cincinnati Reds in the series.

The following year, Jackson batted.382 and was leading the American League when the Black Sox Scandal got underway.

Following the 1919 World Series loss for the White Sox to the Cincinnati Reds, Jackson and seven of his teammates—first baseman Arnold “Chick” Gandil, pitcher Eddie Cicotte, center fielder Oscar “Happy” Felsch, utility infielder Fred McMullin, shortstop Charles “Swede” Risberg, third baseman George “Buck” Weaver, and pitcher Claude “Lefty” Williams—were accused of match-fixing.

They were accused of paying $5,000 each to lose the match. The allegation that the Reds scored a high number of triples to Jackson’s position in a left-field does not support the fact that Jackson had an outstanding season in the alarming year, according to reports in modern media. A grand jury was assigned to investigate the claims in September 1920.

A Chicago jury declared them not guilty of the accusations a year later, and all the players were ultimately exonerated. Jackson and his colleagues were given a lifelong ban by Kenesaw Mountain Landis, the recently appointed commissioner of baseball.

Jackson continued to be involved with baseball for the following 20 years, both as a player and a coach, even after his permanent suspension. He mostly worked with South Carolina and Georgia-based minor league teams. Later, he relocated to Savannah, Georgia, where he helped his wife launch a dry cleaning company.

Recognition & Achievements

The Cleveland Sports Hall of Fame inducted Shoeless Joe Jackson in 1951. He also received recognition from the Baseball Writers Association of America in that year.

In Greenville, South Carolina, a statue in his honor was built in 2002. In 2002, he was also admitted into the Baseball Reliquary’s Shrine of the Eternals.

Personal Legacy & Life

From 1908 until his passing in 1951, Jackson was wed to Katherine “Katie” Wynn. Despite not having any children of their own, the couple raised two of his nephews.
Jackson and his wife relocated to Greenville, South Carolina in 1933 and opened a barbecue restaurant there. He had many heart conditions as he aged.

He suffered a heart attack and died there on December 5, 1951, in Greenville. He was 64. Jackson was thereafter laid to rest in Greenville’s Woodlawn Memorial Park.

Eight Men Out: The Black Sox and the 1919 Series, written by American author Eliot Asinof, was first published in 1963. The same book was adapted into a film in 1988 with D.B. Sweeney as Jackson. Ray Liotta played Jackson in the 1989 film “Field of Dreams,” which starred Kevin Costner.

Estimated net worth

The estimated net worth of Shoeless Joe Jackson is about $1 million.


Because Jackson couldn’t read or write, his wife Katie typically signed his autographs, making anything genuinely written by Jackson himself quite expensive.