The fabled Black Sox Scandal of 1919 left an indelible mark on the annals of baseball, with one of its primary figures, "Shoeless Joe" Jackson, enduring as a symbol of both the scandal's depths and the heights from which he fell.
Now, new findings from Homer, Louisiana, have added another twist to the lore of Shoeless Joe. In a deep dive into the archives, two historians in Claiborne Parish have uncovered evidence of Jackson's clandestine baseball endeavors in the north Louisiana backwoods, post his MLB banishment.
This recent discovery fuels debate and curiosity surrounding the iconic player's later years. The Director of Claiborne Parish Libraries, Pam Suggs, made the revelation. "While researching an old semi-pro baseball team mentioned in The Shreveport Journal, I stumbled upon a photo.
It showcased Paul Thomas holding a pair of socks believed to be worn by Jackson during an exhibition game in Homer," Suggs explained. Intriguingly, this game took place after Jackson's MLB ban. But who was this legendary figure? Born in 1887, Joseph Jefferson Jackson hailed from humble beginnings in South Carolina.
Working in a textile mill at a tender age of six, Jackson's baseball talent shone on the mill's team. "It don’t take school stuff to help a fella play ball,” Jackson was once quoted. His illiteracy was a well-known fact, with his wife often aiding in signing autographs.
Jackson's Pelicans Baseball Era
Jackson's tryst with Louisiana began when he played for the New Orleans Pelicans, a team now synonymous with basketball but was a baseball juggernaut in 1910, crowned the Southern League Champions.
Wes Harris, the Claiborne Parish Library Historian, posits that Jackson's time with the Pelicans might have paved his way to Bastrop's fields post his professional ban. Jackson, along with teammates like Eddie Cicotte and Charles “Swede” Risberg, became part of the infamous “Black Sox” due to the 1919 World Series debacle.
Despite the setback, Jackson remained hopeful of a return, as indicated by a 1923 Shreveport Times piece. This new find underscores Jackson's determination to remain connected to the sport he loved, even if in the shadows of Louisiana's woods.