Ceresi: An interview with Joe Anders, close friend of Shoeless Joe Jackson

From the late SABR member Frank Ceresi at The National Pastime Museum on March 31, 2014:

Joe Jackson was born in Brandon Mills, South Carolina, on July 16, 1887. His beginnings were no different from thousands of other children who grew up around the mill towns of the South in the late nineteenth century. At the age of six, Joe swept floors in the Brandon Mill, outside of Greenville. His schooling was sporadic at best. Like so many children from the area mill towns, he played a lot of baseball. By the time he was 13, Joe was a regular on the men’s team in Brandon. Even then his legend as an extraordinary ballplayer began to grow. He could throw harder, run faster, and hit longer home runs than anyone had ever seen. Eventually, his playing put food on the table. He earned about $2.50 a game by 1905. That was high living for a poor mill town boy.

About that time, a local woodworker made a special baseball bat for Joe at the Brandon Mill. It weighed about 48 ounces and was lacquered with uncounted coats of either tobacco juice or varnish, most likely a bit of both. “Black Betsy” and one or two sisters (he called them “Blonde Betsys”) accompanied Joe for much of his baseball career. Legendary “Shoeless” Joe Jackson, the greatest player to never make the Hall of Fame, played Major League ball from 1908 until he was banned after the 1920 season. He batted over .400 in his first full season with Cleveland. His lifetime batting average was .356, third in baseball history behind Ty Cobb’s .367 and Rogers Hornsby’s .358.


As a result of my longtime interest in Jackson’s career, I had the privilege years ago of traveling to Brandon Mills, where the townsfolk were dedicating the Brandon Mills ball field in honor of their hero, Shoeless Joe Jackson. My son, then a wide-eyed 12-year-old boy, and I were fortunate enough to meet some of the folks who knew and loved Joe not only as a ballplayer, but as a human being. We also visited with and talked with Joe’s younger sister, then nearly 95 years old. And we became friends with two of the nicest people I have ever met—Joe and Kate Anders. Gertrude Trammell, Joe’s sister, and Kate Anders are now deceased, but Joe Anders lives on, carrying like no other the torch for his idol and close friend, Shoeless Joe.

In the following exclusive interview, Joe Anders, who was close to Joe Jackson from the late 1930s until his death in 1951, gave us a picture of what kind of person Jackson really was.

Read the full article here: http://www.thenationalpastimemuseum.com/article/shoeless-joe-jackson

Originally published: March 31, 2014. Last Updated: March 31, 2014.