White Sox: Time To Revisit HOF Consideration for “Shoeless Joe”
Not So Fast; Commissioner Landis’ Ruling
Celebration by the acquitted players was short lived when just a day after on Aug. 3, the newly appointed Commissioner of baseball issued his own verdict that resulted in all eight of the original White Sox players suspected to have been involved in said scandal from the beginning, were to be banished from the game for life.
A general synopsis is that Landis based his decision on the fact that players who meet with known gamblers, discussed the throwing of a game with anyone, or should fail to report such activity to the proper authorities cannot be active members of professional baseball. And honestly, it should be that way in order to establish and preserve the integrity of any sport.
"Regardless of the verdict of juries, no player who throws a ball game, no player who undertakes or promises to throw a ball game, no player who sits in confidence with a bunch of crooked ballplayers and gamblers, where the ways and means of throwing a game are discussed and does not promptly tell his club about it, will ever play professional baseball again. – Kennesaw “Mountain” Landis, Commisioner of Baseball August 3, 1921"
The “Pride of Pickens County”
Jackson was born in Pickens County, SC on July 16 in 1887. Like many families in Pickens County and throughout most of the region, Jackson’s family was poor and had little or no money. For his part, he never attended school, remaining illiterate throughout his entire life, but found work in a local mill where he would later play baseball for the company team and soon garner his nickname.
After swatting a triple one afternoon in a game, he removed a newly obtained pair of baseball cleats that were bothering his feet due not being broken-in yet. He finished the game playing only in his stockings and became forever known as “Shoeless Joe”.
Although I agree with Landis’ logic and support the banishment of any player who would engage in, or commit, any act that knowingly would tarnish the image and integrity of the game or reputation of MLB, its owners, players, and those associated with said organization, which in turn would violate the public trust, I disagree with the fact that he included Jackson as one of the eight White Sox to be banished for life.
When you consider that Jackson,
1] Never once met, or consorted with any gamblers prior to or during the 1919 World Series, or with other White Sox players who allegedly discussed the “throwing of game(s)”.
2] Was given $5,000 cash by a player who reportedly never gave details as to what the money was for.
3] Played well enough to have been considered a series MVP if there had been such an award then.
4] Made several attempts to discuss the aforementioned cash with both Commiskey and another White Sox team official (Grabiner) after the series but met with negative results.
5] Due to his lack of formal education, he had no knowledge of the fact that he was not required to discuss anything with anyone that would be self-incriminating to due to the Fifth Amendment.
6] There is no evidence that proved he had real knowledge of a fix in the aforementioned World Series other than rumors of which he tried to address with Comiskey but to no avail.
Furthermore, J.R. Hunter’s summary of his investigation, – which interviewed former White Sox players in California, Wisconsin, and Michigan – filed on May 11 of 1920 and sent to Comiskey, indicates that “No evidence of betting was ever found, and that his men gave it their best try but still could not answer the question about what prompted the rumors of a fixed World Series.
Hunter had one of his investigators stalk and eventually investigate Felsch for over two months in Milwaukee. Their tenacity was equal to the task, no doubt.