Joe Jackson's hometown of Greenville, South Carolina is honoring him this Saturday when his former home will be reopened as the Shoeless Joe Jackson Baseball Museum and Library at 356 Field Street. The "356" is a reference to the legend's career batting average. The home was lifted in 2006 and transferred to a lot facing the local minor-league baseball field, where the museum will now stand. Sixty-six year old president of the museum’s foundation, Arlene Marcley, says that, "We want the museum to be Ground Zero for Joe's election to the Hall of Fame". She became interested in Jackson in 1997 when she heard of a petition in her hometown to make him eligible to the Hall of Fame, in response to 1921 Commissioner Kenesaw Mountain Landis's declaration of ineligibility for Jackson and seven of his White Sox teammates. Since then Marcley has been passionately trying to raise awareness of Jackson's story, and she hopes that this new tribute to him will accomplish that.
By: Nicole Gately
Helmar Brewing has made a business of honoring baseball and beer legends. To follow up on its wildly successful "Big League Brew", Helmar has added potato chips and caramel corn to its starting line-up of products.
CMG clients Babe Ruth and Joe Jackson will be featured on Helmar's 1.5 oz packages of potato chips. The chips come in such delectable flavors as sour cream and cheddar, BBQ and classic. Their special caramel corn, 3 oz., will showcase only the great Bambino himself, Babe Ruth.
These tasty snacks perfectly complement Helmar's extensive line of products, featuring some of the biggest legends in baseball. They will be available May 15 at select retail outlets. Find out where to get these morsels of nostalgia at Helmar Brewing's web site, www.HelmarBrewing.com.
Visit Babe Ruth's Official web site at www.BabeRuth.com.
Joe Jackson's "Black Betsy" Game Used Bat From Jackson Estate
After his expulsion from the majors, Joe and his wife Katherine settled in Savannah, Georgia, where he opened a successful dry cleaning operation and continued to wield his "Black Betsy" for semipro and industrial league teams in the area.
It was during Joe's time with the Greenville Spinners in the early 1930's, that the story was recorded of this historic "Black Betsy" bat. Joe Thompson, who would later author the book "Growing Up With Shoeless Joe - The Greatest Natural Player in Baseball History" was the Sports Editor of the Greenville News-Piedmont newspaper at that time and conducted several personal interviews with Jackson concerning his life in baseball. One such interview resulted in an August 1, 1932 column bearing the headline "Famed Chisox Slugger Here; In Good Shape - Recalls Early Playing Days in Greenville; Tells True Story of How He Got "Black Betsy".
The article included the following excerpts:
Shoeless Joe" Jackson - one of the greatest sluggers of them all, the man who taught Babe Ruth how to hit - strode the streets of the old home town again today and recalled his early playing days here with Brandon Mill and the Greenville Spinners. Joe will don his baseball harness again Wednesday to give the home folks an eyeful of the modern Joe Jackson. He will play in his old position, center field, for the Greenville Spinners here Wednesday afternoon.
Joe has his famous bat "Black Betsy" with him, and he will use the bludgeon in the game Wednesday. The bat is 24 years old, and has never been broken. It was with this bat that Jackson made all his hitting records, one of them, a World Series record, still standing and tied only by Pepper Martin in the last series. Jackson recalled today how he first showed Babe Ruth how to stand properly at the plate to hit. The Babe borrowed Joe's Black Betsy on several occasions, and loaned Jackson one of his bludgeons. Babe was with the Boston Red Sox at the time.For our own special benefit, Joe explained just how he secured "Black Betsy." There had been so many conflicting stories of the famous bat, that we were naturally curious to know the true story.
"The bat was given to me by old Cap'n Martin, who drove one of the first street cars in Greenville", Joe said. "The bat was whittled out of hickory, but I don't know just where the Cap'n got hold of it. I sent it to the Spaulding baseball company and they finished it for me and stamped their label on it. I've had it ever since and it's never been broke, although it's getting old now and I expect it any time. I used to keep it soaked in a barrel of oil, but lately it's just been thrown by my desk in Savannah".
He will don a Greenville uniform Wednesday for the first time in 20 years. He broke into baseball here in 1908.
Other publicly documented references to "Black Betsy" include a September 23, 1951 article in the New Orleans Times Picayune that documents the bat's distinctive feature of having a slight curvature. Soon after Joe's banishment, he played in Bastrop, LA (1922) and in Americus, GA (1923). The article recounts the great teams in Bastrop during 1922 and 1923, mentioning Joe's days with them in 1922 and describing "Betsey" in the article; "The bat was incidentally something else", Says Montgomery (teammate): "In that old leather case Joe carried two bats, one of which- his favorite was a home-made affair slightly sprung with a curve in it. He wouldn't let anybody touch it. He sure made it talk. I remember once I ordered two new Louisville Sluggers. We were practicing when they arrived and I handed one to Joe to try. He hit a couple balls with it and silently added it to his leather case, I never saw it again."
Two photographs that were taken of Jackson in 1932 show him in uniform with the Greenville Spinners holding "Black Betsy". In both, the bat's immediately identifiable characteristics, including its curvature and distinctive handle tape provide an exact photo match. "Shoeless" Joe Jackson and his wife Katie would reside in Greenville, S.C. until Joe's death on December 5th, 1951. At that time "Black Betsy" and the rest of Joe's property were bequeathed to his widow. Upon her passing in 1959, Katie Jackson willed the bat to her 13 year-old cousin Lester Erwin who would be its keeper for 42 years. In a notarized letter drafted and signed by Erwin in 2001, he states in part.
"Mr. Jack Abbot, the Executor of the estate of Katie Jackson, delivered the bat to my house shortly after Katie's death in 1959. I was 13 years old at the time. This bat was in the home of Joe Jackson until his death and it was his favorite bat. My cousin Katie would tell the family, including myself as a small boy, that Joe kept this bat because it was special to him and he referred to it as "Black Betsy". Joe instructed Katie to leave it to me upon her death and it has been in my family, either at my Dad's house as I was growing up, or at my house for the last 42 years. This has been enjoyed by my friends and family in remembrance of my cousin's husband Joe Jackson, the greatest ball player of all time."
Lester Erwin sold "Black Betsy" at public auction in 2001, where it was bought by a private collector for a then record price of $577,610. Since then, it has been auctioned off again in 2005.
To this day Joe Jackson remains one of baseball's most mythical figures. Baseball historians remember him as one of the games most gifted performers, and growing legions of forgiving fans campaign relentlessly and fruitlessly to have him officially recognized as such in Cooperstown.
manufacturer: Unknown, and was sent to the Spalding Sporting Goods Co. for finishing, wherein said company stamped their logo on the knob and "Old Hickory" label on the barrel. bat
weight: Approximately 40 ozs.
bat length: Approximately 34.5 in.
wood: Hickory finish:
Slightly darkened on the barrel as a result of oil soaking, hence the "Black" in "Black Betsy"
cracks/repairs/features: Slight handle crack, repaired by Jackson with tape. Jackson was known to continue using the bat after it was cracked, however its most significant feature is that it is curved. The curve has been referred to by Jackson's contemporaries as having been "slightly sprung with a curve or crook". The curve is believed to have been caused by the "seasoning" of the wood, which was originally made from "unseasoned" hickory.
The Greenville Bombers honored Greenville, South Carolina native son "Shoeless" Joe Jackson on Saturday, July 16 in memoriam of the 117th anniversary of the baseball legend's birth. The evening included many festivities, as hordes of fans came out for the celebration/baseball game against the Columbus Catfish.
"I've always been a Shoeless Joe Jackson fan. It's nice to be able to come to the park and honor a hometown guy who was one of the greatest baseball players ever. I'm just happy to have the chance to experience it with my kids", said Jonathan Patterson, who was accompanied by his six-year-old daughter and eight-year-old son.
More than 70 members of Jackson's own family came out for the game and celebration. Surely they were able to see the lasting impact their relative had on the city of Greenville and the sport of baseball as a whole. A plethora of activities, souvenirs and fond memories filled Municipal Stadium that Saturday night, all contributing to the memory of a timeless hero of the baseball diamond.
Among the many enthralling items making the celebratory night were T-shirts, free birthday cake, exhibits from the "Shoeless" Joe Jackson Virtual Hall of Fame (www.blackbetsy.com) and Greenville's City Hall Joe Jackson collection. The most coveted piece of memorabilia from the night was a "Shoeless" Joe Jackson bobblehead doll dressed in a historic Brandon Mill uniform with stocking feet. The collector's item was given out to the first 1,000 fans in attendance and was sponsored by Southeastern Products, the company that sponsored the rest of the commemorative events that evening as well.
"Joe Jackson is perhaps the most famous citizen to come out of Greenville", remarked John Burgess, president of Southeastern Products. "We are proud to sponsor the events [that were] on Saturday and I think it is important to do events like these in order to carry on his legacy".
GREENVILLE, S.C. - Associated Press -- Shoeless Joe Jackson supporters hope Pete Rose's quest for baseball reinstatement brings attention to the Black Sox scandal's most celebrated figure and his case to enter the Hall of Fame.
"We're hoping so," Joe Anders said Tuesday. "We certainly think it could open the door."
Anders, who'll turn 83 next month, befriended Jackson in Greenville, S.C., when the player was a long-retired shopkeeper and Anders among the teens that got baseball pointers from one of the sport's all-time greats.
Anders has long tried to get Jackson back in baseball and, eventually, in Cooperstown. Anders has closely followed Rose's case. He said if baseball's hits leader gets in, so should Jackson.
"It's frustrating," Anders said.
Rose is in baseball's spotlight this week. In his book, "My Prison Without Bars," that is due out Thursday, Rose admits betting on baseball while he managed the Cincinnati Reds.
Jackson, who honed his talent in the city's old Brandon Mills textile village, became one of sport's most tragic figures during his time with the Chicago White Sox. He was accused of participating in a gambling scheme to throw the 1919 World Series. He and several teammates were banned from baseball for life, their stories told and retold since then in books, documentaries and movies.
However, Anders said many around the country never believed Shoeless Joe took part in the fix. They work to this day, he says, to right that wrong.
Anders remembers asking Jackson about the supposed crime. "I'm innocent," Jackson told him. "That's all he ever said about it," Anders said. "That was good enough for me."
Jackson eventually returned to Greenville, where he became a successful shopkeeper until his death in 1951.
In the past 10 years, Jackson's native city has worked to honor his life. A ballpark at Brandon Mills is dedicated to Jackson. Signs commemorate Greenville as "The Home of Shoeless Joe Jackson." A statue of a bat-swinging Jackson was unveiled in the West End shopping district in 2002.
U.S. Rep. Jim DeMint, R-S.C., renewed his call Tuesday for baseball commissioner Bud Selig to consider Jackson's reinstatement. DeMint wants Selig to affirm that "Shoeless Joe has served his sentence and that baseball has no further hold on him, and to clarify that he is eligible to be considered for the Hall of Fame."
Anders says Selig is dragging baseball's feet and leaving Jackson out in the cold.
"We've been hearing that for four years," Anders said. "We've been getting the same old story."
Selig did not return a telephone call seeking comment. He repeatedly has said Jackson's case is under review.