Shoeless Joe Jackson and His Tragedy

In the short story “Shoeless Joe Jackson comes to Iowa”, Kinsella provides insight about a man who loves Iowa, his wife (Annie), his daughter (Karin), and lastly baseball. The setting of the story takes place on a rural farm in Iowa where Ray made a baseball field because he was told by a voice of a baseball announcer “If you build it, they will come”. (Pickering pg 740) Ray and Annie had bought this farm, years ago, to plant and cultivate corn and to raise their daughter in a safe environment. Ray, who was a baseball enthusiast, was told to build this field for “Shoeless” Joe Jackson and his teammates to play baseball.

He had no idea on how or why he might even begin to build this great field. So he started small with the field, he built a magnificent left field first for Joe. All the townspeople had heard what Ray was building and they thought he must have been crazy. Because he was taking a big section of his corn field and was turning it into a baseball diamond, he was going to be losing a huge profit in the harvest season for years to come. His remarkable wife went along with these plans and said,”Oh love, if it makes you happy, you should do it. ”(Pickering pg 741) So Ray began on this project which took him several months just to build the eft field for Mr. Jackson, whom he had never even met. So when Ray hears the baseball announcers voice “If you build it they will come”,(Pickering pg. 740) he ,of course, was Shoeless Joe Jackson. Joe was born in Brandon Mills, South Carolina in July of 1887 and died in Greenville, South Carolina in December of 1951. Joe Jackson was the best left fielder that Ty Cobb had ever seen. Joe’s glove is the “place where triples go to die. ”(Pickering pg. 741) Shoeless Joe Jackson was an American baseball player who played Major League Baseball in the early 20th century. He will always be remembered by his performance on the field and for is association with the Black Sox Scandal, in which members of the 1919 Chicago White Sox participated in a conspiracy to fix the World Series. The Black Sox Scandal took place during the 1919 World Series. The conspiracy was the result of the White Sox first baseman Arnold “Chick” Gandil, whose long lasting ties to the underworld, persuaded a friend who was a gambler that a fix could be pulled off. A New York gangster, Arnold Rothstein, provided the money for the fix. Gandil enlisted several of his teammates, motivated by the dislike of the clubs owner Charles Comisky, whom they perceived as a tightwad, to implement the fix.

The owner of the Sox had a reputation for underpaying his players for years. Since some of the guys on the team had ties to the mob, it was easy for them to start to resent other players who were straight-laced and followed the rules. There were a total of 8 players involved in the fix of the World Series. Starting pitchers Eddie Cicotte and Claude “Lefty” Williams, outfielder Oscar “Happy” Felsch and shortstop Charles “Swede” Risberg were all principally involved with Gandil. Although he hardly played in the series, utility infielder Fred McMillan got word of the fix and he threatened that he would go public unless e was in the payoff. “Sleepy” Bill Burns and “Shoeless” Joe Jackson, both played for the Los Angeles Angels after the fix of the series, were mentioned in the fix though their involvement has been disputed. I think he was not involved at all but got caught up in some nasty mob dealings. In the infamous World Series, “Shoeless” Joe Jackson had 12 hits (a World Series record) and a . 375 batting average to lead both teams in the individual statistics. He, also, committed no errors and threw out a base runner at home plate. “Ultimately, eight Chicago players and various small-time gamblers were indicated in the candal. At a 1921 criminal trial, a strong case was presented to establish that some “Black Sox” players-as they became known- had in fact thrown games, but all the defendants were found not guilty when prosecutors failed to prove that they had violated any criminal statutes in doing so. ”(Morrow pg 1) I, also, found out that there is significant evidence that owner of the Chicago White Sox, Charles Comisky, may have known about the fix and tried to cover it up in order to avoid a scandal. No formal charges have ever been brought up against him or any other officials. In the ook “Shoeless The Life and Times of Joe Jackson,” there were several letters written back and forth between Jackson and Comisky. Joe Jackson was asking for the loser’s share of the 1919 World Series which amounted to $3,154. 27 per man. Comisky had asked Jackson to return to Chicago to receive the payment but Jackson had prior obligations in Savannah, Ga. These letters continued for several months but to no avail. Jackson, also, wanted a new contract worth $10,000 per year. Comisky was only willing to pay him $7,000 per year but had already signed Eddie Collins and Buck Weaver to ontracts that was well above his asking price. Mr. Jackson had started his own business in Ga. which was a Billiard business. He explained, in his letters, that the contract that Comisky had offered was not up to par with the other great players of his era. He explained in one of those letters to Comisky that after taxes and having to live in the city where he played, there would not be enough money to keep the Billiard business on its feet. In the letter, Jackson explains that he has played for less money than any other player of his caliber. He, also, writes that if he cannot pay his asking price that

Comisky needs to trade or sell him to another team that would pay him his asking price. Comisky shopped his name around to other organizations and teams but none of them wanted to sign him. In the last letters that they wrote to each other, Comisky explained that he did not receive any other offer from any other team to sign him. Jackson went on to write him back explaining that he would play for anything less than $10,000 per year but he, also, explained that he had heard that Comisky had given a raise of $2,300 to “Happy” Flesch who had only hit . 192 in the World Series. Finally,

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Comisky took matters into his own hands and sent Harry Grabiner to Savannah to obtain Jackson’s signature for the new contract. Mr. Grabiner informed Jackson that his new contract with the team would be increased by $2,000 per year and he was pleased with that contract. “This is where the stories diverge. Grabiner later insisted that Jackson knew that the ten day clause was included in the contract and that Jackson signed it in the house in Katie’s (Jackson’s wife) presence. Jackson claimed that his wife was not home at the time and that he signed it on the hood of the car only after Grabiner ssured him that the ten-day clause was not included. That evening, Harry Grabiner, headed back to Chicago with Jackson’s signed contract. The ten day clause appeared in Article 10 on the third of the contracts four pages. ”(Fleitz pg 205) In summary Ray was building this field for these 8 players who were banned for life to come play and finish out their careers with nothing hanging over their heads. This field, on Ray’s land, would be famous and all the townspeople could come and watch some of the greatest baseball players to ever play the game. Works Cited Fleitz, David L.

Shoeless The Life and Times of Joe Jackson. Jefferson, North Carolina: McFarland &Co. Inc. 2001 Morrow, David. Black Sox Scandal. In Campbell, Ballard C. , PH. D. , gen. ed. 2008 Pickering, James H. Fiction 100. Pearson Education. Inc. 2012 Shoeless Joe Jackson and his Tragedy Jason Ebeling English Composition 2 Professor Moeller Nov. 15 2012

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