‘Shoeless’ Joe Jackson is perhaps the most famous name in baseball to ever come out of the Carolinas.
He’s been featured in movies and books, and more than 100 years after he played in the World Series he’s making headlines once again!
Last week, a photo Shoeless Joe purportedly signed was auctioned off for a record $1.4 million.
He stands there at the ready in front of Fluor Field, the home of Greenville, S.C.’s minor league baseball team, one of the many tributes in Greenville to the baseball great.
“He was one of the best ballplayers who ever lived. He was born in Pickens County in 1887. Moved to Greenville very early on in his life. Lived the first 20 or so years of his life in Greenville then went to the major leagues,” Dan Wallach, executive director of the Shoeless Joe Jackson Museum, said. “Had one of the best baseball careers in baseball history. He’s got the fourth-highest batting average in the history of the sport. And unfortunately, his career was cut short after the 1919 Black Sox Scandal. But most people believe that he’s one of the best hitters who ever lived. You know, Babe Ruth said it. Ty Cobb said it. Anybody who was anybody thought that Joe Jackson was the best hitter who ever lived.”
So just how did Joe Jackson get the nickname Shoeless Joe? Well, he got the name before he went to the major leagues. Legend has it he was playing for one of the mill teams here in the area and he’d just bought a brand new pair of spikes. But the spikes were too tight and they were causing blisters on his feet. So he took the spikes off and started playing ball in just his stocking feet.
That’s when a fan of the opposing team yelled out, “You shoeless son of a gun!” Well, the name stuck, and to this day it’s one of the most recognized names in baseball history.
And then there was the 1919 Black Sox Scandal. Playing then for the Chicago White Sox, Jackson and seven other teammates were implicated in a conspiracy to lose the series.
Even though he was acquitted, he was banned from baseball for life.
Jackson returned to Greenville and opened a liquor store. Today it’s a clothing store, but there is a plaque that commemorates the building’s history.
The museum is housed in the final home where Jackson lived, which was moved from its original location.
Jackson died in 1951 at just 64 years old.
As for that photo that just sold for $1.47 million, part of the reason for its value is that Jackson was illiterate and really couldn’t write. So, there are few instances where you can find his true signature.
In fact, his wife Katie often signed for him.
But, now there are questions being raised about that signature, and we’re going to take up that issue in the next Carolina Camera installment.