Shoeless Joe Jackson
On the morning of the series opener, Jackson bumped into gambler "Sleepy Bill" Burns in a hotel lobby. Burns, assuming Jackson was a co-conspirator, began talking about some of the details of the fix. This confirmed to Jackson that the fix was in and that his name was being used as one of the fixers. Afraid that he could be implicated in the conspiracy, Jackson went to Comiskey and asked to be benched for the Series. No one knows how much Jackson told Comiskey, but his request was denied.
Partial transcript of Jackson's testimony before
Jackson played in the World Series and always pointed to his record as proof that he played to win. The real conspirators made intentional errors to lose the games. Their records show a combination of poor hitting, numerous fielding errors, and second-rate pitching. Jackson's performance, in contrast, was blemish-free. He had more hits than any player on either team. He scored five runs and drove in six. His batting average was .375 and his twelve hits set a World Series record. In the field, thirty balls came to Jackson and he made no errors.
The night after the final game of the World Series, pitcher Lefty Williams came into Jackson's hotel room with an envelope. Williams confirmed that Jackson's name was used for the fix, so the $5,000 in the envelope was his. Jackson didn't want the money, but Williams tossed it on the floor and left the room. The next morning, Jackson took the money and went to see Comiskey. He could not get past Comiskey's secretary Harry Grabiner. Grabiner said it was understood why Jackson was there, but he should take the $5,000 and go home. Grabiner said that if anything else was to be done, he or Comiskey would write to Jackson. From his home in Savannah, Georgia, Jackson wrote to Comiskey about the money, but Comiskey never acknowledged the problem. As it turned out, Comiskey was too busy trying to cover up his own knowledge of the fix to be bothered with Jackson.
During court testimony, Jackson relates his
The grand jury hearings got under way in 1920. Jackson, who never learned to read or write, was manipulated by Comiskey and Comiskey's lawyer Alfred Austrian. If the truth were discovered (Jackson had spoken with Comiskey about the fix and the $5,000 long before an investigation into the World Series began), Comiskey would have to admit he know about a fix, but publicly denied it and re-signed players he knew were corrupt. Jackson's story would tarnish Comiskey's reputation, and Comiskey risked being banned from baseball. Jackson, operating on the belief that Austrian was also his lawyer, followed Austrian's instructions during the grand jury hearings and ended up being indicted.
By the time the trial for the accused White Sox began in June 1921, it was discovered that much of the case file was missing, including records of the grand jury testimony of the players. The trial lasted several weeks, but the jury deliberated for only a few hours before they found all defendants not guilty of all charges. The newly appointed commissioner, Judge Landis, did not treat the players as lightly. He banned all the Black Sox from professional baseball. Jackson was banned for not telling his team about the plan to fix the Series.
Shoeless Joe was thirty-three when his professional baseball career abruptly ended. He and his wife Katie moved back to the South, where he worked for a while in their dry-cleaning business (years later he operated a liquor store). Through the years, Jackson played ball whenever he had the chance. He accepted many offers to play semi-pro and exhibition games. The fans still loved watching Jackson play. Jackson loved the game and played for a long as his health allowed. He finally stopped playing baseball in 1933, at the age of forty-five. Even after his death, people still made attempts to have Jackson reinstated. Only when he is reinstated will he be eligible for induction into the National Baseball Hall of Fame in Cooperstown, New York. There are those who believe the Hall of Fame will never be complete without him.
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