Suzanne Moore's Reviews > Shoeless: The Life and Times of Joe Jackson

Shoeless by David L. Fleitz
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Jan 11, 2010

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bookshelves: baseball, biographies, ashe-winter-challenge
Read from December 09 to 16, 2012

I'm not much of a sports fan, but I love to read memoirs and biographies. Joe Jackson went from rags to riches, so to speak, and his story was quite interesting … involving scandal and speculation. Joe was born in 1887 and went to work at a textile mill at the age of seven. He never had a chance to attend school or learn to read and write. Times were certainly hard, especially living in a large family. Everyone had to work to help ends meet. As Joe got older he began playing baseball with the mill league and soon started to be recognized for his talent. He was an extraordinary hitter and led his team to many victories. Joe got his name “Shoeless” when he played in his stocking feet once, after his new shoes began rubbing blisters. He took a job with the Carolina minor leagues and started making more money than he ever did at the mill. Then he was recruited for the major league as a player for the Chicago White Sox.

The author detailed much of Joe's career on the baseball field with play-by-play accounts. These parts lost me since I don't know a lot about the game or players. I did recognize Ty Cobb and Babe Ruth … both crossed paths with Joe from time to time. The interesting parts where the personal struggles and life he lived with his wife and family. Joe's wife managed all his contracts and helped him when reading and writing were concerned. There was one contract he signed without her review that locked him in at a much lower pay scale than he could have made if he had negotiated better. At the time Comiskey, owner of the White Sox, was under paying his team and becoming rich off the profits.

Feeling cheated, Joe along with several other players were easily enticed into throwing the World Series (1919). The bookie gangsters they were dealing with promised a payoff of $20,000 each. When the White Sox lost the game, Joe was only given $5,000 of the promised take. The loss caused quite an uproar and within a year things were exposed. Joe was technically not found guilty, but he was banned from baseball and never made the Baseball Hall of Fame, despite his outstanding record. Joe lived his final years owning and managing a dry cleaning business and a liquor store. His legend continues to live on and the dispute over his guilt in the Series fix continues to be debated. The ghosts of Joe and the other banned players were even immortalized in the popular movie Field of Dreams.
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message 1: by Henry (new)

Henry Avila I'm a baseball fan and you wrote an excellent review,Suzanne.

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