Say It Ain’t So, Rob: Baseball Commish Won’t Re-Instate Shoeless Joe Jackson


Chicago White Sox star Shoeless Joe Jackson, banned from Major League Baseball for his involvement in a cheating scandal back in 1919, won’t posthumously win back the good graces of MLB anytime soon. On Tuesday, MLB Commissioner Rob Manfred refused a request to re-instate Jackson.

Requests to reinstate the long-banned player who died in 1951 pop up every once in a while but each time a commissioner has denied the request. Manfred has proven to be no different joining past commissioners in maintaining the ban.

This year, operators of the Shoeless Joe Jackson Museum in Greenville, South Carolina, petitioned the commissioner to end the ban but in a letter back to the museum, Manfred said that it “would not be appropriate for me to reopen this matter.”

Manfred ruled that the evidence was not enough for him to consider overturning the decision made by Commissioner Kenesaw Mountain Landis back in 1921.

The newly minted commissioner also said he reviewed the records of commissioner A. Bartlett Giamatti’s 1989 investigation into re-instating Jackson and agreed with Giamatti’s finding that the ban was legitimate and should continue.

“I agree with that determination,” Manfred said, “and conclude that it would not be appropriate for me to reopen this matter.”

Joe Jackson received a ban from baseball after the accusation arose of him throwing the 1919 World Series along with seven confederates for a gambling syndicate’s benefit. Jackson hit .375 in the Fall Classic, committed no errors, and set a World Series record by registering 12 hits. The jury believed him; the judge who ruled baseball with an iron fist did not.

Despite all eight of the accused players in the Black Sox scandal finding exoneration in court, the new commissioner banned the players anyway. Landis, a former federal judge, then went on a crusade to rid professional baseball of gambling influences and eventually banned 18 players from the league. He served as MLB’s first commissioner and held the office from 1920 to his death in 1944.

Follow Warner Todd Huston on Twitter @warnerthuston or email the author at