Jackson supporters want him reinstated

Updated: January 6, 2004, 10:41 PM ET
Associated Press

GREENVILLE, S.C. -- Shoeless Joe Jackson supporters hope Pete Rose's quest for baseball reinstatement brings attention to the Black Sox scandal's most celebrated figure and his case to enter the Hall of Fame.

"We're hoping so," Joe Anders said Tuesday. "We certainly think it could open the door."

Anders, who'll turn 83 next month, befriended Jackson in Greenville, S.C., when the player was a long-retired shopkeeper and Anders among the teens that got baseball pointers from one of the sport's all-time greats.

Anders has long tried to get Jackson back in baseball and, eventually, in Cooperstown. Anders has closely followed Rose's case. He said if baseball's hits leader gets in, so should Jackson.

"It's frustrating," Anders said.

Rose is in baseball's spotlight this week. In his book, "My Prison Without Bars," that is due out Thursday, Rose admits betting on baseball while he managed the Cincinnati Reds.

Jackson, who honed his talent in the city's old Brandon Mills textile village, became one of sport's most tragic figures during his time with the Chicago White Sox. He was accused of participating in a gambling scheme to throw the 1919 World Series. He and several teammates were banned from baseball for life, their stories told and retold since then in books, documentaries and movies.

However, Anders said many around the country never believed Shoeless Joe took part in the fix. They work to this day, he says, to right that wrong.

Anders remembers asking Jackson about the supposed crime. "I'm innocent," Jackson told him. "That's all he ever said about it," Anders said. "That was good enough for me."

Jackson eventually returned to Greenville, where he became a successful shopkeeper until his death in 1951.

In the past 10 years, Jackson's native city has worked to honor his life. A ballpark at Brandon Mills is dedicated to Jackson. Signs commemorate Greenville as "The Home of Shoeless Joe Jackson." A statue of a bat-swinging Jackson was unveiled in the West End shopping district in 2002.

U.S. Rep. Jim DeMint, R-S.C., renewed his call Tuesday for baseball commissioner Bud Selig to consider Jackson's reinstatement. DeMint wants Selig to affirm that "Shoeless Joe has served his sentence and that baseball has no further hold on him, and to clarify that he is eligible to be considered for the Hall of Fame."

Anders says Selig is dragging baseball's feet and leaving Jackson out in the cold.

"We've been hearing that for four years," Anders said. "We've been getting the same old story."

Selig did not return a telephone call seeking comment. He repeatedly has said Jackson's case is under review.


Copyright 2004 by The Associated Press

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