Column: MLB needs to put Shoeless Joe back in the game
GREENVILLE, S.C. (AP) — In a different time, it was an attractive little two-bedroom home, constructed in the early 1940s out of red brick and owned by one of the greatest players ever to grace the diamond, a towering yet tragic figure who lived the last half of his life and went to his grave as a pariah, shunned and scorned by the national pastime.
Now it’s a museum, right across the street from Greenville’s retro minor league ballpark, dedicated to preserving the memory of the man who once lived within its walls.
Shoeless Joe Jackson.
“It is one of the greatest stories,” says Michael Wallach, who leads the museum’s board of directors. “So many of the baseball players in the Hall of Fame, their story is their career. Joe has three parts to his story: before, during and after. All three are romantic stories.”
Growing up in a Southern mill town without a day of formal schooling.
A brilliant baseball career that was snuffed out in its prime.
The life he built after being kicked to the curb by the game he loved.
Even now, on the 100th anniversary of the Chicago White Sox finishing off their infamous throwing of the 1919 World Series to the Cincinnati Reds, stamping themselves for eternity as the Black Sox, Shoeless Joe stirs up harsh feelings and fierce debate about his place — or, more accurately, non-place — within the game.
Well, this is not a plea to exonerate a man who surely made some awful mistakes.
It is a call for compassion.
Jackson’s century-long banishment is long enough.
Say it’s so, Major League Baseball.
Put Shoeless Joe back in the game.