Was ‘Shoeless Joe’ Jackson part of the Black Sox Scandal?

The Black Sox Scandal was a Major League Baseball (MLB) scandal, which resulted in eight members of the Chicago White Sox being banned from professional baseball for life after they were accused of accepting bribes to lose the 1919 World Series to the Cincinnati Reds. One of the accused was star outfielder Joseph Jefferson Jackson – nicknamed ‘Shoeless Joe’ after batting in his socks, while nursing blistered feet, as a youngster – although his personal complicity has been hotly debated ever since.

Before the Cook County Grand Jury, on September 28, 1920, Jackson confessed to having received $5,000, of a promised $20,000, to throw the World Series in favour of Cincinnati, although he also testified that he had made no intentional errors during the whole series. In fact, his overall batting average, .375, was the highest on either side during the World Series.

Likewise, he attested that he never met, or spoke to, any member of the gambling syndicate allegedly bankrolled by New York racketeer Arnold Rothstein. Neither did he attend any meeting of White Sox players, with or without the gamblers, at which the’fix’ was discussed, as later corroborated by his fellow accused players. Pitcher Claude ‘Lefty’ Williams revealed that Jackson was named as a participant to increase the players’ credibiliy in the eyes of the gamblers.

The following August, Jackson stood trial and, despite his grand jury confession being read, in full, to the jury, he was acquitted, along with all seven team-mates, through lack of evidence. Neverthless, the newly-appointed Commissioner of Baseball, Judge Kenesaw Mountain Landis, banned all eight players from playing professional baseball in perpetuity. Later, Jackson repeatedly denied having confessed his guilt to the grand jury and pointed towards his World Series statistics as proof of his innocence.

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