I’ve been stumping for more than 25 years to get Shoeless Joe Jackson into the Baseball Hall of Fame, including a vigorous stretch of several years in the mid-1980s when my then-wife and I circulated petitions for just that purpose. Now the fight has been joined by an unlikely ally: lawyers.
From the September issue of Chicago Lawyer Magazine comes “Black Sox: It just ain’t so, kid, it just ain’t so,” a tidy little indictment of much of the conventional wisdom that simply assumes the guilt of the “Chicago Eight” in fixing the 1919 World Series.
Gee, I’d been more than willing to commit considerable time and resources to try to help out Shoeless Joe even in the face of the widespread belief of his guilt, though I had never been convinced of it myself. I always figured it was simply too ambitious to ask people re-evaluate the whole question of his guilt or innocence; better to try to get him a plaque on the basis of “reasonable doubt.”
Though the article doesn’t explicitly use that term, that would seem to be what it establishes not just for Joe but for virtually the entire crew. It’s also a pretty strong indictment about the quality of Eliot Asinof’s journalistic efforts in his iconic 1963 book 8 Men Out.
Along with pushing forth several good arguments of reasonable doubt for the players, Chicago Lawyer also offers that even more revolutionary theory that perhaps Charlie Comiskey wasn’t quite the reprehensible skinflint that history has recorded him as personifying. I can’t quite drum up quite as much enthusiasm for that non-traditional view, but I certainly understand how a gaggle of Windy City legal types might embrace that particular bit of revisionist thinking.
I don’t typically find myself aligned with those in the legal community, but it’s a really good article that quite fairly raises questions about Asinof’s scholarship in general and the author’s reliance on second- and third-hand accounts of the infamous 1920 grand jury testimony in particular. And so I pass it along as something worth reading.
It also gave me an opportunity to show off Darryl Vlasak’s nifty artwork portraying the disgraced White Sox Eight and the commish who sacked them.