"Shoeless" Joe Jackson

The 1919 World Series featured baseball’s most infamous scandal. That Fall Classic pitted the heavily favored Chicago White Sox against the underdog Cincinnati Reds. Eager to make some extra money, some Sox took bribes from gamblers to throw the World Series. Eventually, the bribery was discovered and a national scandal erupted. Sox star outfielder "Shoeless" Joe Jackson’s name appeared prominently among those implicated as cheaters. By 1921, several White Sox, including Shoeless Joe, faced a criminal trial. A Chicago jury found them not guilty, but the baseball commissioner banned them from the sport forever. Follow as the Chicago History Museum uses Shoeless Joe's voice to tell his story.

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Over the years many people have questioned my role in the fix and the cheatin’. Fact is, as I’ve said, in many interviews since 1919 that I tried to tell Mr. Comiskey about the boys who wanted to frame somethin’ up. He just didn’t want to listen. He was stuck on the idea that we should all be makin’ $175 a month like he did in his day playin’. At one point, I even told Gandil that I wanted out of the deal or I would go to the “boss,” Comiskey. Gandil wanted to be a tough guy and threatened that I might be “knocked off” if I did a thing like that. I wasn’t afraid of nobody and dared Chick to do it. He obviously didn’t follow through.

Charles Comiskey Cracker Jack baseball card, c.1915 (ICHi-38175). White Sox first baseman Chick Gandil, South Side Park, 1910 (SDN-055909).  Shoeless Joe discussing his second thoughts about the fix, Grand Jury testimony, 1920  (SJ-004). Eight Men Out author Eliot Asinof’s notes on his interview of White Sox pitcher Red Faber, discussing Charles Comiskey’s attitudes towards his players, c.1962 (ICHi-67414).