A notable Major League Baseball player. Better known by his nickname Shoeless Joe Jackson. Born July 16, 1889 in South Carolina, he played 13 seasons in the majors from 1908 to 1920. His nickname was given to him when he played a minor league game in his stocking feet after discarding a pair of ill-fitting shoes. He was also illiterate.
In his first full season in 1911 he hit a career best .408 for the Cleveland Indians, finishing behind Ty Cobb for the league lead. It remains the best ever rookie batting average. In 1915 his contract was sold to the Chicago White Sox where he played for the remainder of his career. He was one of leading stars in baseball for the entire decade, never hitting below .300 for a season.
He is forever tainted by his association with the Black Sox scandal of 1919. The White Sox were the American League pennant winners that year and the heavy favorites to win the World Series over the Cincinnati Reds. Many Sox players were disgruntled over the cheapness of team owner Charles Comiskey and were enticed by an offer from gamblers associated with Arnold Rothstein to throw the Series and lose to the Reds in return for money. While Jackson set a record with 12 hits in the series, Jackson accepted $5000 for his part in the fix.
In September 1920, Jackson confessed his role in the fix to a Chicago grand jury. Jackson, along with 7 of his teammates, was acquitted at a jury trial in which their confessions disappeared from the prosecutor's office under suspicious circumstances. Despite this victory, the eight Black Sox including Jackson were banned from Major League Baseball for life by its first commissioner Kenesaw Mountain Landis. The banishment continues to keep Jackson out of the Major League Baseball Hall of Fame to this day.
Jackson played and managed semipro ball in wildcat leagues outside the sanction of Landis in Louisiana, Georgia, and his native South Carolina for many years after his banishment. He also ran several successful businesses. On December 5, 1951, Jackson died of a heart attack at home in Greenville, SC at the age 63.
Jackson remains the most famous of the Black Sox, mostly thanks to the movie Field of Dreams.