Baseball: The Other Shoe

Major League Baseball may be reinstating Pete Rose, but it now faces another clemency conundrum: should "Shoeless Joe" Jackson, of "Black Sox" infamy, also be granted eligibility for the Hall of Fame? Jackson, who died 51 years ago, was banished along with seven other members of the Chicago White Sox for their role in fixing the 1919 World Series. But because Jackson was nonpareil at the plate--his lifetime batting average of .356 is third best ever--and because he tried to give back the money that gamblers turned over, supporters have argued he was treated too harshly. In 1999 two Hall of Famers--Bob Feller and the now deceased Ted Williams--petitioned Commissioner Bud Selig to take Jackson off baseball's "ineligible list," which in turn would allow him to get Hall consideration. Selig never acted, in part because he knew it would agitate a fresh round of questions on the similarly exiled Rose. Now that Rose is on his way back, it rekindles tbe Shoeless Joe case. Some baseball insiders say the diplomatic solution is to acknowledge that Jackson has served out his sentence--"banned for life"-- and the Hall can take it from there.