The Chicago White Sox have a long history of being one of the oldest teams in Major League Baseball. There have been several players that have made their mark in the past. When we think of the White Sox, we think of such players as Frank Thomas and Paul Konerko among others. Those are two of the more famous former White Sox from the more recent past.
But what about long ago? I mean a really long time ago. There are some players that we barely remember and there are others who are famous or perhaps, in this case, infamous. Joe Jackson came to the Chicago White Sox in 1915 after being traded to thereby the Cleveland Naps (now known as the Indians). He was a big-time hitter and someone that the Sox could use to help improve their offense getting them to the World Series.
Jackson posted a very strong batting average in 1919 which was the year that the White Sox went to the World Series to play the Cincinnati Reds. People thought that the White Sox would be a shoo-in to win the big game. Everything was in their favor and it looked like nothing would stop them.
But something did. Even today, the story remains somewhat disputed over 100 years past the 1919 World Series. A gambling syndicate managed to work its way into the team and get eight players to agree to throw the World Series, allowing the Reds to win. It would appear as if the plot succeeded because the much more powerful and well-put-together Sox lost to the Reds. Now it could have been luck on behalf of Cincinnati but that’s highly doubtful.
The Chicago White Sox will forever be linked to the “Black Sox Scandal”.
So where does Jackson come into play in all this? It’s rumored that he was one of the eight that threw the World Series. During hearings regarding the tampering, Jackson stated that he was part of the plan to fix the World Series. Later on, during the more hearings, he and his teammates were acquitted of their involvement with fixing the game.
Despite this, the MLB’s commissioner at the time, Judge Kennesaw Mountain Landis suspended Jackson and his counterparts from baseball for the remainder of their lives. This meant that they would never play the game again. Along with that, their records and statistics would not be considered part of baseball history. This was a tough move for Jackson because, as it stood at that time, he had a slash line of .356/.423/.517.
For the rest of his life, to avoid the ban imposed on him by Landis, Jackson had to play baseball in smaller “outlaw” leagues under an assumed name. He loved baseball and couldn’t break that bond that he had with it. After he retired, he spent some time working in a store he owned and thinking about his past. Shoeless Joe Jackson passed away on December 5th, 1951, at the age of 64 due to a heart attack.
There are several baseball fans that feel that enough time has passed and it’s time that Major League Baseball allowed Jackson “back into baseball”. Some fans even say that he should be voted into the Hall of Fame. A recent attempt was made to convince current commissioner Rob Manfred to have Jackson’s suspension to be wiped away. That effort failed.
Whether you agree with his continued ban from baseball or not, one thing is for sure. Jackson was one of baseball’s greatest players and his record shows it. He was consistent and valuable no matter which team he played for. He’s truly one of the greatest baseball legends of the Deadball era and should forever be remembered for his spectacular slash line.