Wilson: Shoeless Joe Jackson, baseball’s most famous World War I slacker

From SABR member Doug Wilson at Doug Wilson’s Baseball Bookshelf on February 9, 2017:

Here’s one you may not have heard: how Shoeless Joe Jackson was briefly turned into America’s most-scorned draft-dodger in World War 1. It’s true, but as with all Shoeless Joe stories, some work is required to separate fact from myth. It also helps to read published reports from his contemporaries, to view everything in the context of the times and to be aware of other forces which were at work.

The War began in Europe in July, 1914 but had little effect on baseball in America the first few years. The 1916 season had been both successful on the field and profitable for the owners. Business was good. But things would soon be changing. The United States declared war on Germany just days before the start of the 1917 season.

Initially there was talk of shutting down baseball–a thought that mortified owners, who understandably did not want to lose their businesses. White Sox owner Charles Comiskey was especially unhappy at the prospect. He had invested heavily to build his championship-caliber team (he spent his money on obtaining players, not necessarily on paying them). His star hitter, Joe Jackson, had been acquired from Cleveland in 1915 in a deal described as worth $74,000–$31,000 in cash and 3 players who had cost Comiskey $44,000–one of the most expensive deals of the time.

Read the full article here: http://dougwilsonbaseball.blogspot.com/2017/02/say-it-wasnt-so-joe-jackson-world-war.html?m=1

Originally published: February 10, 2017. Last Updated: February 10, 2017.