Joe Jackson catches Royals' eye in Draft
Relative of the Shoeless Joe taken in 50th round by KC
KANSAS CITY -- It was a Field of Dreams type ending to the Royals' 2010 First-Year Player Draft.
As the Draft was winding down, and hundreds of prospects had been selected, one name in particular caught the Kansas City organization's eyes.
A high school catcher from Greenville, S.C., named Joe Jackson. He shares a well-know name in Major League Baseball history. This Jackson is the great, great, great nephew of "Shoeless" Joe.
This Joe Jackson was the Royals' 50th and last choice in Wednesday's 2010 First-Year Player Draft.
Shoeless Joe Jackson was one of the most prolific baseball players of the early 20th Century. As a rookie in 1911, he batted .408 -- the highest average ever for a rookie. He was a World Series champion in 1917 with the Chicago White Sox and still holds the third highest career batting average at .356.
In 1919, Jackson, along with seven other players from the White Sox, were accused of throwing the World Series after the White Sox unexpectedly lost to the Cincinnati Reds in eight games in a best-of-nine series.
Jackson, along with seven other players, was put on trial for throwing the series. It took a jury less than two hours to rule the players were innocent. Even with their innocence, Major League Baseball's first Commissioner, Kenesaw Mountain Landis, banned the eight players from baseball for life to set a precedent that cheating in baseball would not be tolerated.
More than 90 years later, Shoeless Joe is still a respected figure in his hometown of Greenville, S.C.
"He's very well respected," said Jackson's nephew. "I haven't met too many people, to be honest, that believe he was a cheater. I'm sure there are people out there who do, but everybody I know seems to believe he didn't cheat."
Jackson said that even today his family is proud of what Shoeless Joe accomplished during his career.
"We take pride in being related to him," he said. "The thing that happened was a pretty major thing, but he was still a great ballplayer. He has the third highest career batting average in the Majors, so I'm extremely proud to be a part of that.
"We still have his World Series ring and we wear it around a good bit. My dad has it now, and it was passed down to him from my grandfather. We wear it around and we take pride it in. We don't go around bragging about it, but we'll definitely talk about it."
Shoeless Joe proclaimed his innocence until the day he died. Though a jury acquitted him, his reputation for throwing the World Series stayed with him.
"He told members of the family that he did not cheat and that he did not throw the World Series," Jackson said of his uncle. "Most people don't really know that. He didn't like to talk about it, from what I'm told, but he did tell the family that, and usually, you tell your family the truth."
Today, Jackson uses what happened to his uncle as motivation to succeed and make things right for him and his family -- once and for all.
"It gives me a little more motivation," he said. "The main thing for me, is just wanting to be great at something, and what better than baseball? It's a sport of failure and if you can succeed, you can make a name for yourself. The whole situation makes me want to clear the family's name for people who don't really know the story and think he just threw the World Series. It just makes me want to clear our name with my play."
Samuel Zuba is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.