In 1919, Joe "Shoeless Joe" Jackson was banned from baseball for life because of involvement in the "Black Sox" scandal, where the Chicago White Sox threw the series for money.
I believe Jackson had very minor involvement in the scandal. Yes, he took the $20,000 from teammate Chick Gandil. But he still played his best, hitting .375 with a home run in the series.
"Shoeless Joe" is one of the greatest hitters in baseball history. He hit .356 with 54 home runs and 785 RBI in a 13-year career. I think it's a crying shame he's not there. The Hall should take him off the ineligible list and reserve a spot for him in the Baseball Hall of Fame. While I'm not saying taking the money was a good thing to do, that is coming up on 80 years from now. Don't you think he's suffered enough?
I also believe it's time to recognize what this guy did on the field. "Shoeless Joe" almost saved baseball from nationwide humiliation in 1919. Joe took the money from teammate Chick Gandil. However, in a Cincinnati hotel, he arranged to meet owner/cheapskate bastard Charley Comiskey. Comiskey never showed, and we'll never know what Joe had to say to Chuck.
Also, before Game One, he asked to be benched. Does this to you sound like a man who really wants to throw the World Series? If Orlando Cepeda spends five years in prison for drug use, and Fergie Jenkins has three grams of coke and they both get into the Hall of Fame, shouldn't Joe go? Joe did this 80 years ago! I said it before, I'll say it again.
One might say, "Oh, what he did humiliated baseball." Really? So it doesn't humiliate you at all that Fergie Jenkins had three grams of coke on him and all that happened was he got suspended and yet, he still goes to the Hall? I'm not saying Fergie Jenkins shouldn't have made it, but "Shoeless Joe" deserved it way more. On the Sporting News List of the Top 100 Players of All Time, Joe ranked 30th.
It's time they recognized his abilities, not a mistake he made 80 years ago. The Hall of Fame isn't whole without Joe. Think about it for two seconds. Do you honestly believe he really threw the series? Or did he want to play—and play well—but also wanted some money? That to me, is quite an easy decision.
As I said, Joe hit .375 with one home run, six RBI, a .563 slugging percentage, and made no errors in the 1919 World Series. Before reading the next line, really ask yourself whether Jackson was a big piece in the scandal.
Yes, he was a piece. But not a very big one. Kenesaw Mountain Landis made a Roger Goodell-like decision, by banning eight players for life, including Joe. "Shoeless Joe" and the other seven were never seen in the public eye again. I think it was ridiculous to ban Joe, especially since we now know that he had very minimal involvement.
How do we know he's innocent?
- He put forth more effort then anyone on both teams. Had there been one, he probably would've been series MVP.
- He arranged to meet Comiskey, but Charles never showed.
- Before Game One, he decided he'd rather bench himself then lose on purpose. However, Kid Gleason insisted on playing his star.
You know what they say. Stats don't lie. And the stats don't lie with Joe Jackson. He had 785 RBI and hit .356. Had he played six or seven more years, he could've had Honus Wagner-like numbers with a higher average. But thanks to the genius mind of Kenesaw Mountain Landis, we'll never know.
What really ticks me off is that "Shoeless Joe" overcame illiteracy his entire life to become one of the greatest ever. He worked his tail off for 32 years. And because he had minor involvement in a scandal, he won't get his shot at the Hall of Fame. I hope he does.
It's time to forgive and forget.