Joseph Jefferson Jackson (July 16, 1887 – December 5, 1951), nicknamed “Shoeless Joe”, was an American outfielder who played Major League Baseball in the early 1900s.
Jackson got his nickname during a mill game played in Greenville, South Carolina. Jackson had blisters on his foot from a new pair of cleats, which hurt so much that he took his shoes off before he was at bat. As play continued, a heckling fan noticed Jackson running to third base in his socks, and shouted “You shoeless son of a gun, you!” and the resulting nickname “Shoeless Joe” stuck with him throughout the remainder of his life.
He is remembered for his performance on the field and for his association with the Black Sox Scandal, in which members of the 1919 Chicago White Sox participated in a conspiracy to fix the World Series.
As a result of Jackson’s association with the scandal, Major League Baseball’s first commissioner, banned Jackson from playing after the 1920 season despite his exceptional play in the 1919 World Series, in which he led both teams in several statistical categories and set a World Series record with 12 base hits.
Since then, Jackson’s guilt has been fiercely debated with new accounts claiming his innocence and urging Major League Baseball to reconsider his banishment. As a result of the scandal, Jackson’s career was abruptly halted in his prime, ensuring him a place in baseball lore.
Later in life, Jackson played ball under assumed names throughout the south.
Jackson, who played left field for most of his career, has the third-highest career batting average in major league history. In 1911, Jackson hit for a .408 average. It is still the sixth-highest single-season total since 1901, which marked the beginning of the modern era for the sport. His average that year also set the record for batting average in a single season by a rookie.
Babe Ruth said that he modeled his hitting technique after Jackson’s.
Jackson still holds the Indians and White Sox franchise records for both triples in a season and career batting average.