Shoeless Joe Jackson , byname of Joseph Jefferson Jackson (born July 16, 1888, Greenville, S.C., U.S.—died Dec. 5, 1951, Greenville), American professional baseball player, by many accounts one of the greatest, who was ultimately banned from the game because of his involvement in the 1919 Black Sox Scandal.
Born into extreme poverty, Jackson began work in a cotton mill when he was barely six and never went to school. He survived a sickly childhood caused by the lint-filled air in the mill, then grew tall and gangly, with exceptionally long, strong arms. At age 13 he was an extraordinary ballplayer, the youngest ever to play on a mill team. He acquired his nickname when nursing blistered feet from a new pair of spikes (baseball shoes). Playing without them, he hit a base-clearing triple that provoked an opposing fan to cry out, “You shoeless bastard, you!” Even his bat became part of his growing legend—Black Betsy, a locally hewn piece of hickory 36 inches (91 cm) long, weighing 48 ounces (1.4 kg), 12 ounces (340 grams) heavier than modern bats, and stained by countless splatters of tobacco juice.
In 1908 Connie Mack, owner of the Philadelphia Athletics (A’s), bought Jackson’s contract with the Greenville Spinners for $325, but the 19-year-old Shoeless Joe, homesick for his 15-year-old wife, Katie, and embarrassed by his hayseed illiteracy, got off the train at Richmond, Virginia, to catch the first train back to Greenville.
The following season Mack sent Jackson to Savannah, Georgia, where he hit a league-leading .358. When recalled to the A’s in Philadelphia, he was humiliated by the relentless hazing of veteran teammates. Mack offered to hire a tutor to teach him to read and write, but Shoeless Joe wanted none of it. In 1910 he was traded to the Cleveland Naps (later the Indians), where he hit an astonishing .407 in his first full season as a big league player. He liked the city, developing a taste for fine food and nice clothes. In an amusing irony, he loved expensive shoes. Fans liked his pleasant,