Columns » Blake Pontchartrain: New Orleans Trivia

Blake Pontchartrain: "Shoeless Joe" Jackson in New Orleans

The player spent the 1910 season playing for the Pelicans

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Hey Blake,

Is there any information referencing Shoeless Joe Jackson's playing days here?

—Jason

Dear Jason,

  Joseph Jefferson Wofford Jackson was born in rural South Carolina in 1888 and began his professional baseball career with the Philadelphia Athletics. According to the Shoeless Joe Jackson Museum, he picked up his nickname in 1908. He took off a pair of new spikes which were causing blisters on his feet. After scoring a triple, a fan shouted, "You shoeless son of a gun!" It was reportedly the only time Jackson played "shoeless," but the name stuck.

  Local baseball historian S. Derby Gisclair says "Shoeless Joe" came to New Orleans for spring practice two years later. Philadelphia A's manager Connie Mack sent Jackson here hoping he would feel at home in a Southern city like New Orleans, where the Pelicans were founded in 1887. According to Gisclair, Jackson stayed through the 1910 season, playing games with the Pelicans at Pelican Park on South Carrollton Avenue. He also picked up another nickname, "the Carolina Confection," because of his sweet swing.

  Baseball historians say Jackson's time in New Orleans developed his skill as a player. He ended his career with the Pelicans with a .354 batting average. He was traded to the Cleveland Naps and then the Chicago White Sox, which won the 1917 World Series. In 1919, the "Black Sox scandal" rocked the team with allegations the White Sox had thrown the World Series to the Cincinnati Reds. Jackson was one of eight players indicted by a grand jury. The scandal fostered the legendary (and oft-disputed) "Say it ain't so, Joe!" plea reportedly uttered by a youthful fan outside the Cook County Courthouse. Although acquitted of the charges, Jackson was banished from the league.

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