2002 Joe Jackson Related News
Baseball bullet image The Joe Jackson Support Letter To Bud Selig Modified.
(VHOF NOTE: The majority of this texted is dated and no longer applies, however the link is still active to send a letter to the Commissioner of Major League Baseball). We have modified the letter to MLB Commissioner in support of clearing Joe Jackson's name from Major League Baseball's Ineligible List. We added the ability for our visitors to now send this letter to Bud Selig's Milwaukee address as well. The old letter allowed only for our visitors to send it to the New York address. With the recent news of the possible reinstatement of Pete Rose, we thought we should let Budzilla know how strongly we fans feel about the clearing of Jackson's name. We are asking that each visitor to the site send letters to both the New York City address and the Milwaukee address. Lets let Bud-Lite know how we feel and that he should clear Joe's name way before he even thinks about clearing Pete's name. The form is easy to use.....simply click the radio button corresponding to the address you want to send the letter to, fill out your address information, then click the submit button. This will generate a form letter to Commissioner Selig, with the address chosen and your name and address information on our letterhead. At this point simply print this letter out, then we suggest you click on your browsers BACK button, then select the radio button beside the other address, then re-submit, which will generate the same form letter with the new address listed on the letter. Simply print this letter out as well and mail both to the corresponding address listed on the letters. Now is the time for all Jackson fans to make their voices (words) heard....we need to send Selig a message that Joe Jackson is more important than Pete Rose on his list of to-do's. Selig should clear Joe's name before he clears Rose's name and we need to let him know this.

Baseball bullet image Pete Rose Reported To Have Met With Bud Selig About Reinstatement.
CINCINNATI, Dec. 10 (UPI) -- Pete Rose apparently met with Commissioner Bud Selig in Milwaukee two weeks ago to discuss a possible reinstatement to baseball for the game's all-time hits leader.

A Cincinnati television station aired a report about the meeting Monday night. Major League Baseball declined to address the meeting, which also has been reported by ESPN.com and MLB.com.

"There have been a number of stories alleging conversations and meetings between Commissioner Selig and Pete Rose," said Bob DuPuy, President and Chief Operating Officer of MLB. "Pete Rose applied for reinstatement to Commissioner Selig several years ago. The application has been pending since that time. Given the pendency of that application, neither the Commissioner nor anyone else in our office will comment on the Pete Rose matter."

Rose's attorney, Gary Spicer, didn't immediately respond to a telephone message from MLB.com.

WXIX-TV reported that Rose and former Philadelphia Phillies teammate Mike Schmidt met with Selig to discuss a deal. The report said that Rose would have to undergo a 12-month probationary period before further action could be taken.

"There are a lot bigger people I'm obligated to answer to first," Rose told WXIX through a personal friend, "so my official comment is 'no comment.' "

Rose agreed to a lifetime ban from baseball in August 1989, following an investigation into his gambling. Since then, his bids for reinstatement, official and otherwise, have been unsuccessful.

In recent years, Rose has garnered some public sentiment. He received the loudest ovation of the evening before Game 2 of the 1999 World Series, when the All-Century Team was introduced in Atlanta.

Fans in San Francisco delivered another thunderous ovation for Rose before Game 4 of this year's Series, when Major League Baseball named its all-time greatest moments, including Rose's 4,192 career hit that broke Ty Cobb's record.

Baseball bullet image Joe Jackson Inducted Into The Shrine Of Eternals.
On Sunday July 28, 2002 Joe Jackson was inducted into the Baseball Reliquary's Shrine of the Eternals along with Detroit Tigers pitcher Mark Fidrych and Chicago White Sox great Minnie Minoso. Past inductees to the Shrine of the Eternals include, in alphabetical order, Moe Berg, Jim Bouton, Dock Ellis, Curt Flood, Bill "Spaceman" Lee, Satchel Paige, Jimmy Piersall, Pam Postema, and Bill Veeck, Jr.

The class of electees for 2002, was selected from a ballot consisting of fifty candidates and voted on by members of the Baseball Reliquary. The Reliquary is located in Monrovia, CA and is considered by many to be the West Coast Hall of Fame. The 2002 Induction Day ceremony was held at the Donald R. Wright Auditorium in the Pasadena Central Library, 285 East Walnut Street, Pasadena, California.

Minnie Minoso, one of only two players to appear in five different decades (he would have been the first to appear in six decades had the Commissioner's Office not prevented him from playing in the 1990s), Cuban-born Saturnino Orestes Arrieta Armas "Minnie" Minoso is truly a baseball legend, one of the most exciting and popular performers in the game's history. "Minnie Minoso is to Latin ballplayers what Jackie Robinson is to black ballplayers" Orlando Cepeda said. "He was the first Latin American baseball player to become what in today's language is a 'superstar.'" Known as "The Cuban Comet" Minoso debuted with the Cleveland Indians in 1949 but gained his greatest fame with the Chicago White Sox, to whom he was traded in 1951, thus becoming the first black player to wear a White Sox uniform. A three-time Gold Glove outfielder and daring basestealer who appeared in seven All-Star games, Minoso ushered in the era of the "Go-Go Sox" and his presence in the lineup helped turn that club from perennial doormats to perennial contenders. Still active as a goodwill ambassador for the White Sox, Minoso attended the ceremony to personally accept his induction into the Shrine of the Eternals. He was introduced by Tomas Benitez, a Los Angeles-based arts administrator for over 20 years, working with a number of community-based groups, including Plaza de la Raza, the Bilingual Foundation of the Arts, and Self-Help Graphics and Art in East Los Angeles, where he is currently the director.

A baseball phenomenon of the highest order, Mark "The Bird" Fidrych spent five years pitching for the Detroit Tigers (1976-1980). In his spectacular rookie season in 1976 (19 wins and a 2.34 ERA), he captured the fancy of the nation with his uninhibited enthusiasm for the game. The free-spirited right-hander with the unruly blond locks and animated pitching style would talk to the ball, shake hands with his infielders after they made difficult plays, and get down on his hands and knees to landscape the pitching mound. Sadly, injuries brought a premature end to Fidrych's career, but he remains one of baseball's greatest cult heroes. Fidrych's induction was accepted by Los Angeles-based comedian and actor Thom Sharp. A Michigan native and lifelong Detroit Tigers fan, Sharp is known to television audiences for his appearances on The Tonight Show and Late Night with David Letterman and as Tim Allen's older brother on Home Improvement.

Undeniably one of the game's greatest natural talents (his .356 lifetime batting average is the third highest in major league history, behind only Ty Cobb and Rogers Hornsby), Shoeless Joe Jackson (1889-1951) fell from public grace as a result of his implication in the fixing of the 1919 World Series, the most infamous scandal in American sports history. Banished from organized baseball at the end of the 1920 season, Jackson returned to his native South, where the left-handed hitting outfielder barnstormed for years with semipro baseball teams in order to make a living, all the while maintaining his innocence and hoping to be reinstated. Accepting the induction of Jackson on behalf of his remaining relatives and the Shoeless Joe Jackson Society will be Mike Nola. A computer programmer by trade and Coordinator of Computer Applications for Florida State University in Tallahassee, Florida, Nola is one of the foremost authorities on Joe Jackson, having researched his life for the past 17 years. He became involved in the movement to clear Jackson's name from major league baseball's ineligible list in 1990 when he joined the Shoeless Joe Jackson Society (he also developed and maintains their Web site, the Shoeless Joe Jackson Virtual Hall of Fame), whose 15,000 members worldwide comprise the strongest and most impassioned voice for the reevaluation of one of baseball's most misunderstood and misrepresented figures.

The ceremony was kicked off by keynote speaker Peter Golenbock, the renowned baseball historian and author, whose books include Dynasty: The New York Yankees 1949-1964; Bums: An Oral History of the Brooklyn Dodgers; Fenway; Wrigleyville; The Spirit of St. Louis; and the recently published "Amazin': The Miraculous History of New York's Most Beloved Baseball Team". A frequent guest on television and radio talk shows including Biography on A&E and SportsCentury on ESPN, Golenbock resides in St. Petersburg, Florida.

For further information, contact the Baseball Reliquary by mail at PO Box 1850, Monrovia, CA 91017; by phone at (626) 791-7647; or by e-mail at skpubs@earthlink.net.

Pictures From The Induction Day Ceremony -- Courtesy of Larry Goren
Mike Nola Addresses The CrowdMike Nola at the start of the acceptance speech on behalf of Joe, his family and the Society.
Another Shot Of Nola During Acceptance SpeechIn this shot you can see an image of Joe and his induction plaque at right.

Baseball bullet image Joe Jackson Statue Dedicated Saturday July 13, 2002.
By Robert W. Dalton (Spartanburg Hearld-Journal)
GREENVILLE - Joe Wade Anders had an important job to do Saturday morning, and he came dressed for the occasion. Decked out in a baseball uniform minus the shoes, the 14-year-old Anders' assignment was to unveil the life-size statue of Shoeless Joe Jackson that was being dedicated in Greenville's West End District.

Joe Wade Anders was selected because his grandfather, Joe Anders, was one of Shoeless Joe's closest friends.

The bronze statue depicts Jackson in his prime, watching the flight of a baseball after smacking it with Black Betsy, his famous bat.

The 450-pound statue is the work of sculptor Doug Young.

Bricks from the old Comiskey Field surround it at its base.

Jackson hit .408 as a rookie in 1911, and in 1917 led the Chicago White Sox to a World Series victory over the New York Giants. But he is best remembered as one of eight White Sox banned for life for conspiring to fix games in the 1919 World Series.

Twice found innocent in court, Jackson maintained his innocence until his death in 1951. His stats from the '19 Series seem to back him, up he hit .375, had 12 hits, including the only home run and scored 11 of the White Sox 20 runs.

The elder Anders, now 81, was 15 when he met Shoeless Joe. Jackson took an instant liking to the shy teen and helped him with his baseball career. Anders played three years with the Greenville Spinners and finished his career with a .505 batting average.

"Joe and I grew up in the same community, Brandon," Anders said. "We played on the same field, lived on the same street, worked in the same plant, were members of the same church and we both married Kates. Isn't that ironic?"

Congressmen Jim DeMint and Lindsey Graham, former Los Angeles Dodgers manager Tommy Lasorda, Greenville mayor Knox White and Buzz Hamon, a longtime friend of the late Ted Williams, were among the speakers at the dedication ceremony. Sens. Strom Thurmond and Fritz Hollings were unable to attend, but sent well-wishes.

The crowd of about 500 included University of South Carolina baseball coach Ray Tanner and Clemson coach Jack Leggett. It also included many people who met Jackson when he returned to Greenville after his fall from grace.

Neal Campbell, 80, was there. Campbell was Jackson's newspaper carrier in 1938.

Gilbert Martin also attended. Martin, 80, said he curb-hopped at a barbecue restaurant Shoeless Joe owned in the early 1930s.

"I really remember him later on, when he owned a liquor store," Martin said. "He was a hard guy to get to know. He didn't say a lot."

Mike Nola, creator of the Shoeless Joe Jackson Virtual Hall of Fame (www.blackbetsy.com), read off a laundry list of Jackson's accomplishments. He also paid tribute to Jackson's late wife.

"Katie was his escape from the world when it turned ugly on him," Nola said. "We cannot honor Joe without first honoring Katie."

DeMint, who four years ago joined the push to have Jackson reinstated, said he received a surprise telephone call Friday evening. Baseball Commissioner Bud Selig called and asked DeMint to tell the crowd that he was still reviewing Jackson's case, a process that began about three years ago.

"It was one of the more upbeat conversations we've had in a long time," DeMint said. "We hope to show him that (reinstating Jackson) is something positive he can do for baseball."

Jackson lost his most high-profile crusader on July 5 with the death of Williams, the last man to hit .400 in the major leagues.

Still, like foot soldiers for St. Jude, Jackson's supporters vow to keep fighting.

"I believe we can't give up on this situation," Lasorda said. "We've got to let the world know that he belongs in the Hall of Fame."

Hamon, Williams' friend and former assistant, said he visited the ailing former slugger several weeks ago and took him a picture of the statue.

"He said to carry on the fight, carry on the banner," Hamon said. "So it shall be. It will not end here."

Baseball bullet image Ted Williams Dead At The Age Of 83.
From MLB.com by Paul C. Smith
Baseball fans all over the world today are tipping their caps and saying, "There goes the greatest hitter who ever lived."

Ted Williams is dead at the age of 83. Williams, who suffered a series of strokes and congestive heart failure in recent years, was taken Friday July 5, 2002 to Citrus County Memorial Hospital in Crystal River, Fla., where he was pronounced dead of cardiac arrest at 8:49 a.m., hospital spokeswoman Rebecca Martin said. He had undergone open-heart surgery in January 2001 and had a pacemaker inserted in November 2000.

"The Splendid Splinter" was the last man to hit .400 in Major League Baseball. Also known during his 19-year career with the Boston Red Sox as "The Kid" and "The Thumper," he set the standard for rookie performances in 1939. He won baseball's elite Triple Crown twice, in 1942 and 1947. And he was the American League MVP in 1946 and 1949.

Williams used incredible discipline, 20/10 eyesight and quick, strong wrists to win six American League batting championships, hit 521 home runs, play in 18 All-Star Games and finish with a .344 lifetime batting average.

He led the American League in runs scored six times, home runs and RBIs four times, walks eight times, and slugging percentage seven times. He also struck out only 709 times in 7706 career at-bats. He was elected to the Baseball Hall of Fame in 1966, receiving an almost unheard of 93.38 percent of the possible votes (282 out of 302) in his first year eligible.

No wonder fans could only imagine what he would have accomplished if hadn't missed nearly five seasons because of military service and two major injuries.

"I've always loved to hit," Williams said. "And from the first day I set foot in Fenway Park, I wanted to show everyone that I was the kind of hitter who belonged with the best in the game -- names like Foxx, DiMaggio and Greenberg."

It was at age 20 that he first said: "All I want out of life is that, when I walk down the street, folks will say, there goes the greatest hitter who ever lived."

In 1971, Williams wrote "the Science of Hitting," a book baseball coaches still consider the bible of fundamental hitting. Many of today's stars, such as San Diego's Tony Gwynn, swear they learned how to properly hit a baseball by taking it from Ted.

"The most important thing about hitting I learned from Rogers Hornsby,'' Williams said. "And that was to wait for a good ball to hit. It sounds simple, but many players today simply can not or do not wait for a good pitch."

Williams will long be remembered not just as a Hall of Fame baseball player. He also was a military hero and an accomplished sports fisherman.

He was born Theodore Samuel Williams on August 30, 1918, in San Diego, California. He grew up with a bat in his hands. Unlike his father, Sam, he didn't smoke or drink. And Ted disliked chit-chatting, so he spent lots of time perfecting his swing. He would work on that swing inside, outside, day or night, rain or shine. His left-handed stance always started with his feet exactly 27 inches apart and the bat, by the end of his career, had to be a well-tended 33 ounces. They were often weighed for accuracy. His bats also never touched the ground, lest they accumulate moisture.

Williams got much of his perseverence from his mother, May, a well-driven Salvation Army missionary. Young Ted often accompanied his mother on her missions to bars and brothels in San Diego and Tijuana and witnessed the zeal with which she worked.

In his youth, Williams was a playground baseball legend. Then he led his high school, Hoover High, to a state championship. The scouts took early notice of the 6-foot-4, 190-pound outfielder.

When the Red Sox signed him, they sent him to play for his hometown San Diego Padres of the Pacific Coast League. It was there at Lane Field, as legend has it, that Williams hit a home run so far over the right field fence that it landed in an empty boxcar in a train headed for Los Angeles.

Not too long after, Williams was headed for Boston.

In his rookie season of 1939, he hit .327 with 31 homers and 145 RBIs, easily the top batting statistics ever for a rookie. Quickly, he became a hero in a city known for its dedicated, enthusiastic and intelligent fans. As the new favorite of Bostonians, young and old, and even the media, he spent many a day tipping his cap to their ovations.

But during the offseason after his first year, Williams' parents divorced. He decided to avoid the pain of that situation and stayed in Minneapolis with his future wife, Doris Soule.

Once the conservative Boston media got wind of that situation, combined with Williams' slow start at the plate in 1940, he became increasingly unpopular.

It was then that Williams decided he did not trust the boys in the press. And he stopped tipping his cap for the fans when he did start hitting again. He was heckled and ridiculed and, late in the season, he stated that he no longer liked Boston and wanted out.

That fired up the media even more, and some of Williams teammates. But other players stood up for him and stopped talking to the media altogether. Williams finished with another great year (.344, 23 homers and 113 RBIs) but the damage to his image was done. And, one of the other things Ted Williams will always be known for, was stubborness. He could hold a grudge as tightly as anyone.

His relationship with baseball writers, who voted on the major awards, probably cost him at least one MVP Award, in 1947, when one Boston sportswriter left him off the ballot completely. Williams lost by one vote.

Of course, in 1941, Williams put together one of the finest seasons ever by a professional player. But it also happened to be the year of the incredible 56-game hitting streak by Joe DiMaggio of the New York Yankees.

On the next to the last day of the year, Williams was hitting .3998, which would have rounded up to .400 and been the first time since 1923 that an American League player (Detroit's Harry Heilmann) would have attained that magical number.

Yankee Manager Joe Cronin offered to let Williams sit out a double-header on the last day of the season to guarantee the mark. But, after staying up all night thinking about the decision, he said, "The record's no good unless it's made in all the games."

Williams went 6-for-8 in the double-header and raised his average to .406.

The next year, the United States was engaged in World War II. Williams was listed as draft status 1-A but received a deferment because his mother depended on him for support. Once again, he got heat from the fans and media in Boston.

Eventually, he enlisted in the Navy reserves and learned to fly. In three years, he never made it into battle.

Williams returned to baseball in 1946, hitting a home run in his first at-bat of the season. He was the league's MVP that year despite often facing, "the Williams Shift" with the opposing team's defense aligned with most of it players on the right side of the field. Williams, a strong pull hitter, clinched the Red Sox's first pennant in 28 years by hitting an inside-the-park home run to a vacated left field.

He won another batting title in 1948 (.369) and was MVP again in 1949. But he still refused to tip his hat to the Boston fans. However, he started doing charity work with kids with cancer and the infamous Jimmy Fund, which raised money for medical research at a Boston hospital.

Williams broke his elbow in the 1950 All-Star Game but still came back to hit 28 homers and drive in 97 runs, in 334 at-bats.

In 1952, the U.S. was in the Korean Conflict amd Williams was headed back to the military. This time, he was chosen to fly with future astronaut and senator John Glenn. Williams was awarded many medals for his 39 missions but lost some of his hearing because of the gunnery noise.

After leaving the military in 1953, he wasn't sure he wanted to play baseball again. But he was asked to throw out the first pitch at the All-Star Game and the thunderous ovation helped him change his mind.

He played in 37 games that season, without any Spring Training, and hit .407, but didn't qualify for the batting title.

In 1954, he broke his collarbone early in Spring Training and missed a third of the season but still finished with 29 homers and a .345 average.

The rest of the '50s, he continued to hit, including leading the league in batting average in 1957 (.388) and 1958 (.328). Then, in 1959, at the age of 40, he hit .254. That was his only season batting under .300. And he couldn't end his career that way.

The next season, at 41, he hit .316 with 29 homers and 72 RBIs. He homered in his final at-bat in Fenway but, despite the urging of the fans, players and even the media, refused to tip his cap.

In 1969, he went to work for the Washington Senators and was voted Manager of the Year. That career lasted four years, including a franchise move to Texas to become the Rangers.

After that, he got married and divorced twice more, and had two children (John Henry, born in 1968, and Claudia, born in 1971). He also went fishing a lot and founded Hitter.net with his son.

He had two strokes and a broken hip but still found time to make regular visits to his Hitters Hall of Fame in his new hometown of Hernando. Fla. This year, the well-stocked museum, built in the shape of a baseball diamond, is celebrating the 60th anniversary of Williams hitting .406.

On the 50th anniversary, in 1991, the Red Sox held "Ted Williams Day" at Fenway Park. The legendary hitter gave a speech that mentioned his true love for Boston's fans but that he never really showed his appreciation.

"When I finally consented to do this, I started to think, 'What am I going to say?'" Williams said. "Then I thought it might be nice to tip my hat."

But Williams realized he didn't have a Red Sox hat.

He asked Jeff Reardon to borrow one. But the former Boston reliever refused because it was the only hat he had.

"I'll give it back in a minute," Williams snarled.

And, with that, the greatest hitter who ever lived, tipped his hat to all his fans.

Paul C. Smith is the A.L. East regional writer for MLB.com.

Baseball bullet image Joe Jackson Statue To Be Dedicated Saturday July 13, 2002 At 10:00 AM.
Greenville, SC-It took six years of dreaming, masterminding and fund raising to get it done, but Greenville will soon be home to a statue of baseball legend Shoeless Joe Jackson.

On Saturday, July 13, 2002, fans from across the country will gather to celebrate the sixth annual Shoeless Joe Jackson Month. This time around, instead of a trek to Greenville City Hall to view memorabilia of Jackson's career, the City is planning an old-fashioned All-American rally to unveil the life-size bronze creation.

The statue, the vision of Arlene Marcley, Executive Assistant to Greenville Mayor Knox White, will be unveiled during official ceremonies to commemorate Jackson's personal history and professional baseball career. Headlining the lineup of celebrities will be living legend and Hall of Famer, Tommy Lasorda. Other guests expected to attend are former major leaguers, textile league stars and Jackson family members. Marcley told the Virtual Hall of Fame that she is looking forward to meeting the main stars of the event--- who she calls VIF's - Very Important Fans. "I've made good friends I've never met, simply because of a man I never knew---Joe Jackson."

When the statue fundraising effort began in January 2001, checks were received from fans anxious to share in a permanent memorial to Joe Jackson. Several outstanding local contributions fueled the campaign and, according to Marcley, private donations totaling $45,450 were raised. "But, the campaign isn't over," Marcley said. "The design work has been done for future additions to the plaza site, including a wall of remembrance and additional landscaping and historical markers." Fans can continue to make contributions payable to SHOELESS JOE JACKSON STATUE FUND, c/o Mayor's Office, City of Greenville, P. O. Box 2207, Greenville, SC 29602.

Over the last six years, Marcley's office has become the dugout and press box for anything about Joe Jackson. From a vantage point on the tenth floor of Greenville City Hall, she looks out on a bustling, international city that smolders in Southern charm and history. "I'm the least likely soul to be waving the banner for a ball player who was banned from baseball and who died 51 years ago. Besides, I fell asleep in the theater the first time I saw "Field of Dreams."

In 1997, Joe Thompson and Roy Gullick visited Marcley at City Hall. Native Greenvillians, Thompson and Gullick told her about a framed picture of Shoeless Joe Jackson, which they wanted to present to the Mayor. After getting details and learning about a petition they had been circulating to get Jackson reinstated to the majors, Marcley planned a press conference for the presentation to the Mayor. On that day, she met Jackson family members and Joe and Kate Anders, longtime personal friends of Jackson's. Marcley's interest in the life of Shoeless Joe thus began, and the result will be unveiled in July.

In 2001, Douglas R. Young sculpted the clay model of Jackson in the lobby of Greenville City Hall. For months, the friendly artist in his unorthodox studio became a popular diversion for downtown workers on their lunch hour, kids on summer break, and other visitors of all ages. "Doug was very brave to work in full view and under constant scrutiny of the public," Marcley says. "He's created a beautiful statue."

Throughout the months the work was in progress, visitors were able to knead and soften the modeling clay for the statue. "No, Joe is not shoeless; he's wearing cleats," Marcley reported, "and his right foot is larger than his left foot. Tiny children would place their kneaded clay on the most accessible part of the statue to their little hands---Joe's right shoe! Such is the charm of the statue."

In December, Young delivered the clay sculpture to the foundry in North Carolina, where it is being bronzed. Around June 1, construction of the statue base is scheduled to begin. On July 1, landscaping will begin. On July 13, at 10:00 a.m., in Greenville, SC, fans will gather and Doug Young and Arlene Marcley will try to keep back the tears all for Joe.

Read the Official Invitation

Baseball bullet image Shoeless Joe May Get Call.
By Bart Wright, Sports Editor
Article Appeared on GreenvilleOnline.com (a service of the Greenville News)

It is just one sentence buried in the middle of the City of Greenville's Request For Proposals that seeks developers' ideas for a new baseball facility, but it's a beauty.

You could start reading this legalistic mumbo jumbo and fall asleep before you ever got to the section headed, "Scope of Services; Developer Responsibilities," but if you make it this far, you are in for a surprise.

There are eight subsections, separated alphabetically. You have to go to part G to find the most intriguing sentence in the document:

"Obtain all required approvals and copyrights for the use of "Shoeless Joe Jackson" for promotion and financing opportunities subject to financial viability and commercial reasonableness."

OK, so it's mumbo jumbo. Fortunately, here at the newspaper we have a mumbo jumbo decoder to make sense of that sentence.

Turns out it means the developers can let their imaginations run wild with plans to incorporate Shoeless Joe Jackson into a new facility. Nothing in the game of baseball in America is longer overdue. Joe Jackson is baseball in Greenville, a native son who some will say was the greatest hitter who ever lived.

Smeared for life
When baseball banned Jackson and seven teammates of the Chicago White Sox for allegedly taking money to throw the 1919 World Series -- others did, Jackson didn't -- it meted out unjust punishment that lives today. When Jackson was acquitted of all charges in court, his baseball banishment stuck.

Jackson was smeared for life, against the pleas of virtually everyone in the game, including Hall of Famer Ted Williams.

This is not news of any sort to most of the nation's baseball fans. There are countless Shoeless Joe clubs and Web sites around the world. Books have been written, movies made and plays performed in his honor. Baseball's greatest injustice was perpetrated on Joe Jackson, not Pete Rose.

Finally, there is an opportunity to do something about it. A museum? A beloved shrine to this city's greatest athlete? A ballpark in his name connected to a museum?

An official Shoeless Joe Jackson site might well become the Upstate's biggest tourist attraction if it is done well. How about facts of Jackson's involvement in the 1919 World Series displayed under glass on a wall, with sworn testimony from those who tried unsuccessfully to bribe him? How about a list of living relatives, their memories and artifacts?

The possibilities are glorious and almost limitless.

Best of all, the time is here, at long last.

Baseball bullet image Virtual Hall of Fame Kicks Off Letter Writing Campaign To Commissioner's Office.
The Virtual Hall of Fame announced on Friday April 19th, 2002 that it was kicking off a letter writing campaign to Commissioner of Baseball Bud Selig's office. We would like all visitors to our site to please take a few moments and fill out the Letter To Commissioner Selig Form. The form is simple, just fill out your name and mailing address, click on the submit button, the form is submitted to a program that will format a form letter to Commissioner Selig, complete with your name and address at the top on Society letterhead. You simply then print it out, address an envelope, put the proper postage on it and drop it in the mail. Then sit back and wait for that "form" letter reply from the Commissioner's Office ("blah, blah, blah, blah), but that's not important.....what is important is that we keep Joe's name fresh in the mind of the Commissioner during this baseball season. We need to show him the support that Joe has among "real" baseball fans. We do believe this letter writing campaign can show him that...........and who knows.....it may even do some good in getting Joe's name cleared from the ineligible list.

Baseball bullet image Shoeless Joe's Bat Makes Stop At Ripken Museum.
ABERDEEN, Md. (AP) - The beloved black bat cherished by "Shoeless" Joe Jackson made its temporary home at the Ripken Museum in Aberdeen over the weekend.

It's the first ever public tour for Black Betsy, which has been passed down through Jackson's wife's family since he died in 1951.

Jackson, whose .356 career batting average ranks as baseball's third-highest, used the warped, 40-ounce bat throughout his major league career. He took it with him when he played in the semipro leagues, sometimes using an alias, after he was banished for his role in the fix of the 1919 World Series.

Black Betsy arrived at the museum Saturday and will be on display until March 31.

Sports collector Rob Mitchell of Pottstown, Pa., paid more than $577,000 for the hand-tooled hickory bat in an online auction in August. His winning bid is believed to be the most ever spent for a baseball bat, breaking the record of $320,000 paid last year for a bat used by Babe Ruth in 1929.

Mitchell, who uses surgical gloves when he handles Black Betsy, hasn't let it out of his hands since he bought it.

Jim MacMahan, director of the Ripken Museum, said he is thrilled to host the famous bat.

"Instead of being locked up somewhere, the public will have a chance to see it," he said last week.

The first tour of the bat garnered a modest fee for Mitchell, McMahan gave him an autographed Cal Ripken Jr. uniform jersey that sells for $500 at the Ripken Museum.

Jackson, a country boy from South Carolina, began his career in 1908 with the Philadelphia Athletics and later played for the Cleveland Indians before joining the Chicago White Sox, where he got caught up in the scandal.

His story was chronicled in the film Eight Men Out and Field of Dreams. Supporters still are working to get him into the Hall of Fame.

Jackson was known for naming his bats picking the monikers of Blonde Betsy and Big Jim and he took great care to preserve them.

Black Betsy's most recent owner was Lester Erwin of Easley, S.C., who kept the bat on a bookcase for decades after inheriting it from Jackson's widow in 1959.

Baseball bullet image Ted Williams Attends Museum Ceremony.
By Gordon Edes, Boston Globe Staff, 2/18/2002

HERNANDO, Fla. - As his son, John Henry, guided his wheelchair away from his weeping daughter, Claudia, and past old ballplayers like Enos Slaughter sobbing shamelessly, Ted Williams, a blanket around his legs and wearing a sweater underneath his blue blazer despite the Florida heat, was kissed gently on a forehead the color of chalk by a tall, dignified-looking man in glasses.
''I love you,'' the 83-year-old Williams, his cheeks moist from his own tears, said softly to 91-year-old Elden Auker, the former Red Sox pitcher and a decades-old friend. ''Take care.''
On a cloudless afternoon yesterday in this central Florida town, where more than 1,500 people crowded inside a tent on the grounds of the Ted Williams Museum and another estimated 300 people stood outside, a blue Ford van pulled up to a side entrance. Inside, former Dodgers manager Tom Lasorda was MC of ceremonies honoring former baseball greats like Cal Ripken of the Baltimore Orioles, Don Mattingly of the Yankees, and Dwight Evans of the Red Sox, along with current stars like Jason Giambi of the Yankees.
The side door of the van was slid open, a hydraulic lift was lowered, and as security personnel cleared a path, John Henry Williams assisted his father out. Without advance announcement, Ted Williams was making his first public appearance since undergoing nine hours of surgery for congestive heart failure more than a year ago.
Lasorda was apprised of Williams's arrival. ''We have a special guest,'' he said. ''Let's wait a few seconds until he gets here.
''Ladies and gentlemen, the greatest hitter that God ever put on earth, Ted Williams!''
The assembled guests, along with those on the podium, which included new Red Sox owner John Henry and general manager Dan Duquette along with Williams's former Sox teammates including Johnny Pesky and Dom DiMaggio, rose to their feet.
Auker had been with Williams in the beginning, when Williams broke in with the Red Sox as a rookie in 1939. Auker and another Red Sox veteran, Hall of Famer Jimmie Foxx, used to invite the 20-year-old from San Diego to their apartment for dinner. Back then, Auker said, Williams neither smoke nor drank, and never had been in a relationship with a woman. Of the $6,500 Williams was paid that season, Auker said, Williams probably sent home $5,000 to his mother, Mary, a worker in the Salvation Army.
''He was just a helluva guy,'' Auker said, ''full of life.''
Of the players on that '39 team, Auker, Williams, and second baseman Bobby Doerr, who was not in attendance yesterday, are the only players still alive.
''[Williams] didn't want to be here,'' Auker would say. ''But I think the people just demanded it. They wanted to see him for the last time. But it was awfully hard for him.''
Williams, who only recently had returned home after months spent in hospitals in New York, San Diego, and nearby Gainesville, waved feebly to the cheering crowd. His son went to the podium.
''We knew this day was coming for a few weeks,'' the younger Williams said. ''We never clearly realized what it would mean to be here on the same stage with my dad and my sister, breathing the same air everybody else is breathing and knowing how valuable life is and what love is, from a father to a son, from a father to a daughter, from a daughter to a father, and from a son to a father.
''I don't think there are two children luckier in the whole wide world than my sister and I. All I want him to know is that I know the hell he and I have gone through in the last year and a half, and I and my sister could not have done it without him. Dad, we love you.''
Williams, embraced by his daughter, again waved weakly to the crowd but did not speak. ''Thank you,'' John Henry Williams said after briefly talking to his father. After Lasorda spoke to him privately, Williams jerked his head back, his face full of emotion.
''I said to him, `Ted, remember one thing,''' Lasorda said. ''`You were tough when you played, you were tough when you were a Marine, you can't leave us. You got too many people who love you, you can't leave us.'
''He said, `OK.'''
As Williams was wheeled to the rear of the stage, he passed Slaughter, who was playing right field in Detroit's Briggs Stadium when Williams hit his game-winning home run in the 1941 All-Star Game. Contrary to legend, Slaughter said, the ball did not clear the stadium roof. It hit the facing of the upper deck and bounced back onto the field, where Slaughter pocketed it and would present it to Williams years later, on the day Slaughter was inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame in Cooperstown, N.Y.
Williams spotted Pesky. ''He whispered, `Hi, Johnny,''' Pesky said. Auker leaned over with his kiss. WBZ-TV sportscaster Bob Lobel, there to present Evans for his induction into Williams's museum, wiped a tear from Williams's cheek.
Later, Ripken, Evans, and Mattingly would be taken to Williams's home for private visits. Sox owner Henry had gone to the house that morning.
''It was terrific,'' Henry said of his first meeting with Williams. ''He was in good spirits. Tommy [Lasorda] had him laughing all the time.
''I don't know why he chose not to speak [at the ceremonies]. Maybe because he was emotional.''
Henry, asked what he and Williams talked about, said, ''Gosh, I was so in awe, I don't know if I remember. He mentioned that he spent quite a bit of time in San Diego and he knew [Padres owner] John Moores.
''Tommy asked him, `Do you have any advice for the new owner of the Boston Red Sox?' and he said those guys out [in San Diego] really did a great job with the fans, they were fan-friendly.
''I told him, as a matter of fact, that Larry Lucchino is our new CEO, and that I always have thought of John Moores and Larry as my role models, along with Drayton McLane of Houston, when it came to community involvement. That was one thing we talked about.''
That morning, as guests surveyed the collection of Williams memorabilia that fills the museum, Auker recalled the rookie Williams, spending endless hours standing in front of the tall mirrors in the Sox clubhouse, practicing his swing. It was no accident, Auker said, that Williams became what many call the greatest hitter ever to play the game.
Earlier yesterday morning, Auker had visited Williams in his home with Lasorda and a Williams friend.
''He can hardly talk,'' Auker said. ''He's got this thing in his throat, he's on dialysis every night, and now he's lost his appetite and is losing weight. His face is very pale.
''They're just keeping him alive. It just isn't right. He doesn't want to live. He's in a wheelchair, he can't take care of himself, he's got someone around him 24 hours every day. It's very, very unfortunate, sad to see.''
In his last at-bat for the Red Sox, in 1960, Williams famously hit a home run.
This, Auker suspects, may have been another public farewell.
''It's like he's on display,'' Auker said. ''Of course, people were thrilled to see him, but to see him in that condition, to see him like that?
''I've known him since 1939. We've been friends all these years. To see what he's going through, just keeping him alive ... it just doesn't seem right.
''But I guess that's life. I guess there's nothing you can do about it.''


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