The 2021 Major League Baseball season has finally arrived and with it comes a sense of renewed rivalries. It also brings back enduring memories of the game’s greatest. One baseball legend who deserves broader recognition is Shoeless Joe Jackson, who spent a significant portion of his life in Greenville, South Carolina.
Located in South Carolina’s breathtaking Upstate region, Greenville is a must-see destination for baseball fans of all ages. Here, they can enjoy attractions dedicated to one of the greatest to play the game of baseball – Shoeless Joe Jackson.
About Shoeless Joe Jackson
A South Carolina native, Joe Jackson is widely considered one of the greatest ballplayers in the history of Major League Baseball (MLB). He got his nickname during a textile mill league game in Greenville by once hitting a triple while running in his socks. However, he’s best known as one of the eight Chicago White Sox players caught in the infamous 1919 World Series Black Sox Scandal. Preceding these events, the White Sox were a championship-caliber team but underpaid by the team’s owner Charles Comiskey.
The Black Sox Scandal
Growing up uneducated and illiterate, Joe Jackson was persuaded to accept payoffs from gamblers to lose the 1919 World Series. Although Jackson’s participation in the gambling scandal is disputed, he and the other ballplayers were banned for life from the MLB. Despite the alleged payoff, Jackson hit the 1919 World Series’ only home run and led all players with a .375 batting average.
Although given the lifetime ban, Shoeless Joe Jackson distinguished himself over his career. In 1911, he hit .408, which remains the record batting average for a rookie. In the 1917 World Series, he was one of the key players when the Chicago White Sox defeated the New York Giants.
His lifetime batting average of .356 remains third on the all-time list, behind Hall of Famers Ty Cobb and Rogers Hornsby. Along with his close friend Ty Cobb, he was well respected by other players of his era, including Babe Ruth.
Career In Major League Baseball
Joe’s first Major League Baseball was the Philadelphia Athletics. He later played with the Cleveland Naps (Cleveland Indians) before joining the Chicago White Sox.
After playing in other organized baseball leagues, Jackson first moved with his wife to Savannah before settling in Greenville. Jackson opened a liquor store that was located in Greenville’s west side, now a vibrant arts district. He died at his home on December 5, 1951.
Shoeless Joe Jackson is one of only a few worthy players who are banned from entering the Baseball Hall of Fame. An active movement continues to this day to reinstate his eligibility for enshrinement.
Shoeless Joe Jackson Attractions In Greenville, South Carolina
25 Draper St.
Greenville, SC 29611
Located in the vibrant arts section on the westside of Greenville is historic Brandon Mill. The historic complex is a collection of historic buildings that once contributed to the burgeoning textile industry. Joe Jackson began working here at age six, making $1.25 a day. He later played on the factory league baseball team at Memorial Park. Today, the historic complex is known as West Village Lofts, an upscale apartment community.
Shoeless Joe Jackson Museum & Baseball Library
356 Field St.
Greenville, SC 29601
Hours: Scheduled to reopen in April, 2021
The Shoeless Joe Jackson Museum & Library is one of those rare sports museums dedicated to just one ballplayer. In fact, all other ballplayes with museums are in the Hall of Fame. Located in the heart of downtown Greenville, the museum is at the former residence of Shoeless Joe and Kate Wynn.
Comparatively small for a sports museum, it does hold a substantial collection of memorabilia. For instance, there are authentic pieces like one of Jackson’s White Sox jerseys and vintage wooden seat from Comiskey Park. Additonally on display, is a feature story in of 1951 Atlanta Constitution and 1949 Sport Magazine.
Shoeless Joe Jackson Memorial Park
406 West Ave.
Greenville, SC 29611
The iconic 1989 movie Field of Dreams was primarily filmed on a sprawling farm in Dyersville, Iowa. But the true Field of Dreams may actually be in the westside of Greenville. Just footsteps from where a young Joe worked is his namesake Memorial Park. The park’s baseball diamond is where Jackson started playing organized baseball.
Encompassing eight acres, Shoeless Joe Jackson Field also hosts annual vintage baseball games against ballplayers representing the Ty Cobb Museum in Georgia.
Shoeless Joe Jackson Statue
945 S. Main St.
Greenville, SC 29601
The Shoeless Joe Jackson Statue is the life-size sculpture of Greenville’s baseball legend. Just a short walk from Jackson’s museum, the statue is situated near the entrance to Fluor Field, home ballpark for the minor league Greenville Drive. Behind the statue is a small wall bearing his name and whose bricks were from Comiskey Park.
Unveiled in 2002, the statue originally stood on Main Street, near the one of city’s signature attractions – Falls Park on the Reedy.
Woodlawn Memorial Park
1 Pine Knoll Dr.
Greenville, SC 29609
Woodlawn Memorial Park is the final resting place for Joe Jackson and his wife Kate Wynn. Just minutes from Bob Jones University, Joe Jackson’s gravesite is constantly adorned with baseball memorabilia. Visitors are urged to pay their respects and leave a baseball with a message to Shoeless Joe. Situated not far from the park’s centerpiece tower, his grave is generally not difficult to find. Further information on the location can be found through the Find a Grave website.
About The Author:
Randy Yagi is an award-winning freelance writer who served as the National Travel Writer for CBS Local from 2012-2019. More than 900 of his stories still appear in syndication across 23 CBS websites, including CBS New York, CBS Los Angeles, CBS Chicago and CBS San Francisco.