Shoeless Joe Jackson

(Shoeless Joe sure was a handsome devil, wasn’t he?)

This is my latest essay assignment from the English class. I wasn’t real happy with it. I was supposed to come up with proposal to make and I had a hard time coming up with something. As a result I had no paper written by the time the due date rolled in. I have until 9 PM on the due date to upload my assingments, and when I got home from work Monday I had approximately three and a half hours to research and write the essay. Oh yeah, and I had invited over some friends to watch the BCS Championship game. So as you might have guessed, my paper did not turn out as well as I’d thought a last minute paper written while watching college football and talking with friends could be. Well if you might have guessed that you’d be wrong! I scored a perfect 20. I’m including the cover letter to the professor on this one as well as his comments (in red). I’m not saying I’m Ernest Hemmingway or anything, but I have to admit I felt a little cocky after getting the grade back. Which does not bode well for my future writing assignments. Anyway, I give you An Essay.
Mr. Overton,

I feel that this is my poorest essay of the class, though perhaps the most researched. I’m not sure if there is a correlation there or not. I had a hard time coming up with a proposal and as a result found myself writing under the gun. I don’t think its “bad”, necessarily, just not the best I’ve done so far in this class. I’m hoping for some feed back.


Your cover letter is very candid, I must say!

Shoeless Joe Jackson was one of greatest hitters in baseball history. He ranks third in career batting average behind only Rogers Hornsby, who holds the record for the highest single season batting average, and the great Ty Cobb, arguably the greatest hitter of all time. While Jackson shares the distinction with these two men as one of baseball’s batsman, he does not share the honor of being a member of the Hall of Fame. Jackson was banned for life from baseball in 1921 by commissioner Kenesaw Mountain Landis for his involvement in the gambling scandal during the 1919 World Series known as the Black Sox Scandal. During that World Series, eight players from the Chicago White Sox accepted money from gamblers to throw the Series. But was Jackson’s lifetime suspension justified? Is its continuation necessary? Though he admitted to accepting $5,000 from gamblers, his statistics for the series provide a compelling argument against his suspension. Major League Baseball should reopen the case and reinstate Jackson, making him eligible for the Hall of Fame. His punishment has gone on long enough. [WCO1]

The first question for Hall of Fame eligibility, for anybody, is statistical worthiness. When one looks at the statistics of Shoeless Joe, the credentials are undeniable. Jackson’s first full season in the majors he batted an amazing .408. In the eleven years before his lifetime ban he batted under .338 only twice and never below .307, good enough for a third all-time best .356 average (“Joe Jackson”). He finished in the top five in the Most Valuable Player voting four times and was always at or near the top of the league leaders in triples. While harder to quantify in numbers during the era in which he played, Jackson was “generally considered a strong defensive player” (“Shoeless Joe Jackson”). According to Shoeless Joe Jackson’s Virtual Hall of Fame, “his glove was known as the place where triples go to die.”

The hurdle to Jackson’s Hall inclusion has never been statistical qualifications. His involvement in the Black Sox scandal is his roadblock. Jackson admitted to agreeing to throw the World Series in exchange for $20,000, of which he received $5,000:

Q: How much did [Chick Gandil] promise you?

A: Twenty thousand dollars if I would take part.

Q: And you said you would?

A: Yes, sir. (Neyer).

Jackson, “after the series was over…tried to give the money back on multiple occasions, but by that time the damage had been done” (“Black Sox Scandal”). Jackson’s play in the World Series does not hint at a player who was trying to lose games. Jackson batted “.375 in the World Series to go along with a perfect 1.000 fielding average” (“Shoeless Joe Jackson the Official Website”). An entry on Wikipedia notes:

One play in particular has been subjected to much scrutiny. In the fifth inning of game 4, with a Cincinnati player on second, Jackson fielded a single hit to left field and threw home. Eyewitness accounts say that the throw would have resulted in an out had pitcher Eddie Cicotte, one of the leaders of the fix, not interfered. The run scored and the White Sox lost the game 2-0. James C. Hamilton—the official scorer of the 1919 World Series—testified under oath in a later civil trial between Jackson and Charles Comiskey that the throw was honest and that Cicotte jumped up and knocked it down for an error. Chick Gandil, another leader of the fix, admitted to yelling at Cicotte to intercept the throw in his autobiography.

Another point in Jackson’s favor is that he is never reported at being in attendance in meetings the other conspirators. The Chicago History Museum states on it’s The Black Sox website that, “Because Jackson did not attend any conspiracy meetings and, as he stated in his testimony, he batted, ran the bases, and fielded to win the games, his participation and role in the conspiracy has been misconstrued.”

Despite his outstanding statistics for the 1919 World Series, Jackson can certainly be faulted, and should be, for his accepting of the $5,000. His actions assisted in “compromising the integrity of [his] profession and violating the trust of [the] fans” (Neyer). If Jackson were still alive today, he may not deserve to be enshrined in Cooperstown, New York. Giving an honor as rich as that to someone who, though perhaps not directly, but certainly indirectly, damaged baseball’s reputation would not be justice. But what Jackson did occurred nearly a century ago, and he died over a half-century ago in 1951 (“Shoeless Joe Jackson”). Hasn’t he paid his dues? There are those in the Hall of Fame who are guilty of worse crimes. Ty Cobb was a reputed racist and was known to try to intentionally injure opponents, yet his bust inhabits a place of honor in the hallowed Hall. In a recent column about baseball’s current predicament of Hall eligible suspected steroid users sportswriter Bill Simmons remarks:

Let’s stop pretending that the Baseball Hall of Fame is a real-life fantasy world — a place where we celebrate only the people and events we can all unanimously agree deserve to be celebrated — and transform it into an institution that reflects both the good and bad of the sport. Wait — wasn’t that Cooperstown’s mission all along? Shouldn’t it be a place where someone who knows nothing about baseball can learn about its rich history? Isn’t it a museum, after all?

Certainly Shoeless Joe Jackson was a major contributor to that rich history? On his death bed Jackson uttered these final words, “I’m about to face the greatest umpire of all and He knows I am innocent” (“Shoeless Joe Jackson”). It’s time to lift the ban and put him where he belongs.

This is a good concluding paragraph; it ties back to the opening.

[WCO1] This is a very effective opening paragraph.

Actually, I can’t find anything wrong with this essay, though I looked carefully.
It is well organized, researched, documented, written and all that good stuff. I didn’t find any errors of composition, either. I hate to disappoint you, but I will have to give it full credit.
Maybe you can write a lousy last assignment?


6 thoughts on “Shoeless Joe Jackson

  1. The Big Bossman

    being your boss I can say that your reverse psychology worked well here… as opposed to at work. You would never try anything like this on your self-eval…

    Maybe you could have a career in politics…?

  2. RC

    i myself wrote a few candid letters to certain professors when papers were horrible (or namely, one time when I thought the teachers reading assignment was absolutly impossible and wrote them an e-mail to let them no I absolutly was not going to do the reading, and not to call on me).

    Good essay…and congrats!

  3. jenylu

    I think you’re showing off again!

    I enjoyed the essay though and have come to the brilliant conclusion that Shoeless Joe really ought to be in the baseball Hall of Fame. Besides, he was such a likeable fellow in “Field of dreams”.

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