Chicago White Sox: Looking at the career of Shoeless Joe Jackson
The Chicago White Sox have had some legends play for them, but one of them was in a sticky situation which cost him his career.
The Chicago White Sox have had some amazing players come through the organization over the years. There are Hall of Fame players, local legends, and guys who came together to have one of the more unlikely World Series Championships of all time. It has been a great franchise in terms of its long term recognizability. One guy that goes under the radar sometimes is a guy who’s character in a movie might be more prominent than his playing career.
The Chicago White Sox and the New York Yankees announced last week that they are going to play a regular-season game at the Field of Dreams. This is the site of the field in the movie of the same name, where Shoeless Joe Jackson comes back from the dead to play baseball again. He was a prominent character in the movie and has sparked lots of conversation about his career.
Shoeless Joe Jackson was one of the best players in Major League Baseball history. He is also one of the most controversial players in the history of the league as well. The controversy comes because of the fact that Jackson was involved in the 1919 Black Sox scandal that saw members of the organization throw the 1919 World Series, allowing the Cincinnati Reds to win on purpose.
His career was cut short after the 1920 season because the MLB commissioner banned Joe Jackson for life. He was in the middle of his prime when it happened, so it kept him from going on to be considered one of the best players who ever lived. For the time he was in the league, he was well on his way to being one of those players.
The issue was that there are people who believe that Jackson didn’t know what he was doing and he doesn’t deserve to be banned. He led both the White Sox and Reds in many major statistical categories including setting, at the time, a World Series record of 12 hits. He may have taken the gambling money but it is hard to prove that he was purposely trying to lose the World Series on purpose.
His career batting average of .356 is still third all-time for any player in league history and his .408 average in 1911 still ranks as the sixth-highest mark in the modern era (1901 and later). He is also the White Sox all-time leader in batting average. His career WAR of 62.2 is also very impressive and likely would have gotten to legendary status if he played out his career. He was certainly a great player statistically with his bat but he was also known for being a very good left fielder. He had the ability to use his wheels to be a vacuum out there.
It is a shame that Jackson isn’t a part of the baseball lore, but it is what it is. Maybe, the Field of Dreams game being played exactly 100 years after he was banned might allow the league to reinstate him and celebrate him, but as of right now it just remains a shame that the players were put through that. Shoeless Joe Jackson is one of the best players in White Sox history whether or not people want to recognize it.