It’s Major League Baseball season and with it comes a sense of renewed rivalries. It also brings back enduring memories of the game’s greatest. One legend who deserves to be in the Baseball Hall of Fame is Shoeless Joe Jackson. Moreover, it’s Greenville, South Carolina, where he spent a significant portion of his life. Located in South Carolina’s breathtaking Upstate region, Greenville is a must-see destination for baseball fans of all ages. In fact, there are several Shoeless Joe Jackson attractions in this Upcountry city.
About Shoeless Joe Jackson
A South Carolina native, Joe Jackson is one of the greatest ballplayers in the history of Major League Baseball (MLB). He got his nickname during a textile mill organized baseball 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.
Grand Jury Indictment
In 1920, a grand jury indicted eight players, in addition to five gamblers. As a result, all of those players were found guilty in 1921 by Judge Kenesaw Mountain Landis. Although this is true, the White Sox was an American League championship-caliber team but underpaid by owner Charles Comiskey. That same year, Kenesaw Mountain Landis became the first commissioner of organized baseball.
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 was banned for life from the MLB. Not only was Jackson banned but famed players like pitcher Eddie Cicotte and Buck Weaver. Despite the alleged payoff, Jackson hit the 1919 World Series’ only home run. What’s more, he also led all players with a .375 batting average.
Performance At The 1917 World Series
Although given the lifetime ban, Shoeless Joe Jackson distinguished himself over his career. In 1911, he hit .408, and that feat is still 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.
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Joe Jackson’s Career Batting Average
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. In fact, he has been named among the Top 100 all time baseball players by the Sporting News.
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. In all, he had 13 years in organized baseball. His career in baseball has been so legendary, he has been featured in two outstanding Hollywood movies – “Eight Men Out” and “Field of Dreams”.
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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.
Effort To Induct Joe Jackson Into The Baseball Hall of Fame
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. If anyone deserves to be in the Baseball Hall, it’s Shoeless Joe.
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 ballplayers 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. Additionally 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. Even the late actor Ray Liotta, who starred as Shoeless Joe may agree. 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.
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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.
Where Is Shoeless Joe Jackson Buried?
Woodlawn Memorial Park
1 Pine Knoll Drive
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 Joe Jackson’s grave can be found through the Find a Grave website.
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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, Los Angeles, Chicago and San Francisco. During his peak years with CBS, Randy had a reported digital audience reach of 489 million and 5.5 million monthly visitors. Additionally, his stories have appeared in the Daily Meal, CBS Radio, Engadget and Radio.com.