With MLB’s Field of Dreams Game between the Yankees and White Sox in the rearview, now is the time to completely reinstate and forgive Shoeless Joe Jackson. It is time to put him in the Baseball Hall of Fame. Whether Shoeless Joe is worthy of enshrinement isn’t really up to MLB but the Baseball Hall of Fame itself, which currently refuses to consider him.
Should White Sox fans really be rooting for Shoeless Joe Jackson though? That’s a tough question. Whether he tried his hardest or not in the World Series, he had his role in validating the fix that ultimately cost the Chicago White Sox a championship that they should have won.
With only three World Series titles, it would be nice to have more. If the White Sox had not thrown the 1919 World Series (or avoided the 1994 strike), they would likely have at least 4 titles, tying them with the Detroit Tigers for the 9th most all-time.
Obviously, based on the character one sees in the Field of Dreams movie, one would have to root for Shoeless Joe Jackson. However, that is a fictionalized version of a real-life person. As the view from the film points out, Joe Jackson hit .375 with a home run and 6 RBI’s in the World Series that year! Of course, he was trying his best!
Shoeless Joe Jackson of the Chicago White Sox is still not in the Hall of Fame.
Unfortunately, that view doesn’t factor in defense, nor the fact that Jackson played much better in the games the White Sox were trying to win. In the first five games of the series (in which the Sox lost 4 games to 1) Jackson only hit .316 and did not record a single RBI.
He did not record an error in the series but it has been long known there’s more to fielding than just not making errors. Of course, trying to read too much into the box scores ignores the problem of small sample size, as he could have played better or worse depending on the randomness of baseball. So we’ll probably never know if he was cheating the game or not.
In both his decision to agree to “throw the game” and his confession of guilt afterward, Jackson was basically an illiterate man who was taken advantage of under social pressure. White Sox fans should still like Shoeless Joe for helping them win the 1917 World Series but acknowledge he probably isn’t 100% innocent in the White Sox losing in 1919.
As far as the Hall of Fame goes, I would support Shoeless Joe going in but Sox fans should probably focus more on other deserving Sox players who didn’t cheat like Minnie Minoso, Dick Allen, Tommy John, or more recent guys like Mark Buehrle. I’d rather all four of those guys get in the Hall of Fame than Jackson. That, and with Pete Rose and Barry Bonds looking in from the outside, he’s likely no longer the best player not in the Hall of Fame, just one of many numerous snubs.