Shoeless Joe Meets Clueless Rob

Shoeless Joe Jackson The man couldn't read, but his soul keeps writing.

Shoeless Joe Jackson
The man couldn’t read, but his soul keeps writing.

On March 30th and June 22nd of 2015, Arlene Marcley, President of the Shoe Joe Jackson Museum in Greenville, SC wrote letters to new Baseball Commissioner Rob Manfred, asking him to remove Jackson’s name from the list of players deemed ineligible for the Hall of Fame.

On July 20, 2015, Manfred answered the Museum’s request, refusing to take that action, citing  his agreement with the statement of former Commissioner Bart Giamatti several years ago that “The Jackson Case is now best given to historical analysis and debate as opposed to a present-day review with an eye to reinstatement.”

President Marcley now states on the museum’s Facebook page that they have no plans to pursue the matter further. The letter from Manfred is also posted at this same link:

Several questions arise, however from Commissioner Manfred’s choice for inaction-as-his-plan-for-action in the Jackson case:

1) Since all of the major figures in the nearly century old Jackson case are now dead, and the fact that it is highly improbable that further time passage is going to produce a new living witness or piece of evidence in this case, what’s wrong with 2015, right now, as enough time passage to reconsider the player’s status on the Hall of Fame ineligible list in our time?

2) In a separate matter, Commissioner Manfred is supposedly in line to review the very different set of facts in the relatively recent case of Pete Rose’s chances for removal from the HOF ineligible list. Well, it does occur – and must be stated: If enough time has not passed in the 90-year old case of Joe Jackson, isn’t it also way too early to reconsider the ban on Pete Rose for his gambling and testimonial dishonesty about things that happened only some thirty years ago?

3) Is Manfred’s decision in the Jackson case dismissal to “further historical analysis and debate” really sort of akin to that old wisdom saw in the blue collar labor force, from elders to newbies: “In your first day of work on a new job, try not to open a can of worms for lunch.”

4) In fairness, is Commissioner Manfred really as clueless as he appears to be about the obvious political decision he’s making to not get pulled into the quagmire of Joe Jackson and, regardless of his separate case, his forever entwined connection to the 1919 Black Sox Scandal?

Something tells me that we really haven’t heard the last of Shoeless Joe Jackson’s case during the administration of Rob Manfred as the Commissioner of Baseball.

As always, time will tell.





5 Responses to “Shoeless Joe Meets Clueless Rob”

  1. Tom Hunter Says:

    During the eight games of the 1919 World Series, “Shoeless” Joe Jackson got 12 hits including a home run, had 6 RBIs, scored 5 runs, batted .375, and didn’t commit a single error. He did get caught stealing once and struck out twice.

    However, in testimony to the Cook County Grand Jury, the illiterate Jackson gave conflicting accounts of his involvement in the fix.

  2. Cliff Blau Says:

    And in court, he testified under oath that he took part in throwing the World Series.

    Anyway, where is Manfred saying not enough time has passed to review Jackson? He’s saying too much time has passed.

    • Bill McCurdy Says:

      I could have expressed that idea more clearly. Manfred is saying that there is nothing new after 90 years to warrant further review of his status on the ineligible list. He anchors his position in support of Giamatti’s statement that “The Jackson Case is now best given to historical analysis and debate.” To that end, I must ask, what would be the point? If said analysis and debate has no end in sight but the rancorous perpetual affirmation of disagreement on Jackson, what would be the point of such an energy-draining engagement, unless it had some potential connection to the possibility, with no guarantees, that new perspective might lead to some relief of the sanctions against Jackson based upon factors we cannot simply see from the passage of time that’s happened so far. Without new evidence, which isn’t likely, nothing may ever change. The Legend of Joe Jackson may dwell forever in the same house of history that embraces the debated account of who really killed JFK.

  3. Mark W Says:

    It would take a remarkable discovery of new evidence to offset Jackson’s own confessions. But perhaps Manfred means that the debate can help to shape moral reasoning and conclusions of generations to come. I certainly believe that to be true. Most if not all of the arguments I’ve heard for Jackson’s reinstatement to eligibility for HOF induction hinge on some variation of two main themes: 1) a perpetuation of the Naturalistic Fallacy (“What Is Ought To Continue To Be”): that since numerous players in those days likely perpetrated similar malfeasance, and some may have gotten away with it, including allegedly Cobb and Speaker, therefore Joe Jackson also should be allowed to go without consequence. Despite the “If A, Then B” trappings, this isn’t a logical line of thought. If it were logical, then we all should be allowed to own slaves today; and war criminals all should be allowed to go without consequence. But moral development and evolution requires that old stances be modified, and in so doing, sooner or later an example will be made of somebody. 2) There is no evidence of Jackson’s participation in a fix. One has to assume that anyone still taking this less plausible stance simply is unfamiliar with the grand jury transcripts and Jackson’s own confessions.

  4. Mark W Says:

    A third line, which I think of as the Ted Williams argument, is that since Jackson is dead, a “lifeftime” ban no longer applies. But I take “lifetime” to mean as long as organic life on earth exists. Another stance is one I refer to as the “Love and Forgiveness Stance”. In this view, Jackson has been punished enough and it’s time to let bygones be bygones, forgive and forget. Let’s let the guy in because he was just so gosh-darned good at baseball and the poor ignorant hillbilly couldn’t read or write and got snookered by others more wily than he. But I don’t require Jackson’s HOF enshrinement in order to love and forgive him. We are taught to love ourselves and others DESPITE our mistakes, bad decisions, flaws, and sins, but we aren’t taught to look the other way or not be held accountable when we are responsible for such missteps.

    That’s kind of how I see the shape of the debate. And such a debate can be very useful for the refinement of moral reasoning.

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