There was a light at the end of the tunnel, or at least some Shoeless Joe Jackson supporters thought when Bud Selig stepped down as Major League Baseball commissioner and Robert Manfred took office. Arlene Marcley, president of the Shoeless Joe Jackson Museum, the family of former “Black Sox” teammate Buck Weaver, and a petition with thousands of signatures was turned over in hopes that Shoeless Joe Jackson would have his ban from baseball lifted.
For those that might not know, Shoeless Joe Jackson and seven of his teammates were placed on the ineligible list by then Major League Baseball commissioner, Kenesaw Mountain Landis, for throwing the 1919 World Series. Even the fact that a court acquitted Shoeless Joe Jackson of taking any bribes, the commissioner did not yield with regards to his punishment for Shoeless Joe Jackson.
Shoeless Joe Jackson has become otherworldly in lore after movies like Eight Men Out or even to a smaller extent Field of Dreams. Almost 100 years later, and with Shoeless Joe Jackson, still in in the eye and mind of many in baseball, it appears that the rules have not changed.
Current Major League Baseball commissioner Rob Manfred has ruled on the appeal and sent a letter to Arlene Marcley informing the museum and its supporters that the ban of Shoeless Joe Jackson will remain in place.
The major point in the letter from Manfred talks about the timing and that it is hard to conclusively say that Shoeless Joe Jackson was innocent 94 years ago. That is probably the last time that the supporters of the player with the third highest career average (.356) in baseball history, behind only Ty Cobb and Rogers Hornsby will ever hear of a commissioner looking into the case.
Manfred will be in place for a couple of decades, baring failure, and it seems unlikely that any other commissioner will change the ban of Shoeless Joe. For his supporters this is an unfortunate blow to their hopes but regardless of effort, they will move on.
The letter from Manfred to Arlene Marcley, can be seen below and also on the Shoeless Joe Jackson Museum Official Facebook Page.
The response from the Shoeless Joe Jackson Museum can be found on their Facebook page but below is a snippet of that response.
“Baseball commissioner Rob Manfred took office last January. In one of his first interviews he stated that he believes when a man serves his sentence, that man deserves a second chance. He was speaking in reference to A-Rod. In February, I began writing Commissioner Manfred requesting he remove Joe Jackson’s name from the MLB ineligible list. Joe was banned 94 years ago and he died 63 years ago. Jackson has more than served his sentence. His banishment wasn’t in perpetuity. Mr. Manfred replied stating, “Your letter makes some interesting points.” I received the following letter dated July 20 from Commissioner Manfred saying it would not be appropriate for him to re-open the matter.”
The commissioner is also set to rule on the fate of Major League Baseball’s all-time hit leader, Pete Rose, who was banned from the game for betting on baseball later this year. His is the other well-known case that used the precedent set by Shoeless Joe Jackson and the penalties levied by Kenesaw Mountain Landis as the premise for the punishment. To expect any change on the Pete Rose suspension is foolish if this ruling means anything. Sorry Pete, this ruling really killed your chances.