Family Travel 2011

Megan Sexton

SOUTH CAROLINA INSIDER

 

Shoeless Joe museum a mecca to baseball fans

Posted 6/17/2011 6:17:00 AM

South Carolina native Shoeless Joe Jackson was always pretty well known to serious baseball fans.

But after the movie “Field of Dreams,” even non-baseball fans learned more about one of history’s greatest ballplayers, who was banned from baseball after the 1919 “Black Sox” scandal, when several Chicago White Sox players were accused of throwing the World Series. Jackson always maintained his innocence.

At the Shoeless Joe Jackson Museum in Greenville you can learn all about Jackson and see the house where he lived and died – and take a look at some great baseball memorabilia.

There is a textile mill baseball uniform from the early 1900s, an original seat and bricks from the old Comiskey Park, along with photos, baseballs, bats, uniforms and more than 2,000 baseball books. There is also a video that tells Jackson’s life story.

Even the house number – it’s located at 356 Field St. -- is a reminder of Jackson’s lifetime batting average, .356, the third highest in baseball history after Ty Cobb and Rogers Hornsby. The house was moved to the site, just across from Fluor Field, from its original location a few miles away.

And as they say in the movie, “People will come.”

“We have a lot of people come from all over the country that are interested in Shoeless Joe,” said Mike Miller, a volunteer tour guide at the museum. “A lot of it is because of the Black Sox scandal, finding out exactly what happened with the scandal, and just looking into why Joe is not where he should be as far as the Hall of Fame.”

The museum is staffed by volunteers and is open Saturdays from 10 a.m. until 2 p.m., with private tours by appointment. Admission is free, although donations are appreciated. And there’s a gift shop (on a recent trip my sons each picked up a Shoeless Joe T-shirt.)

If you’re in Greenville on Saturday, June 18, the museum will host an array of activities including the unveiling of a S.C. historic marker in the front yard in honor of the museum’s third anniversary.

And here’s a question that always comes up about Jackson: Did he really play without shoes?

The nickname came early in his career when he wore new spikes in the first game of a double-header. The shoes caused painful blisters on his feet, so he took them off for the second game and played in his socks. After a hit, a fan of the opposing team watched him round the bases and yelled, “You shoeless son-of-a-gun.” A sportswriter heard it, wrote about it, and the nickname stuck.