Adding any real information to the research of Shoeless Joe Jackson’s bat would be like adding a drop to the ocean. Literally, scores of internet articles and a few books have been written on both the man and his bat. As such, we don’t intend to add anything but, instead, to compile some insights to get the researcher on his way. The following comprises the information, with sources, we documented for Shoeless Joe Jackson’s bat.
|Hillerich and Bradsby||36||48||J13, Black Betsy||Hickory||1903|
Shoeless Joe Jackson’s Game Used Bats
Joe Jackson’s bats are identifiable for two reasons. The first is the characteristics of the bat. These characteristics include, rather broadly, a very thick handle, a taper that lasts nearly the length of the bat, and a very dark color, at least on the barrel. The second reason his bats are identifiable is simply because there are so few of them in existence. Shoeless Joe Jackson’s verified game-used bats number less than 5. And, if you ask some, even less than that.
What Size Bat Did Shoeless Joe Jackson Use?
Like most in his era, Jackson’s bats were flat out heavy. At least 40 ounces in most instances and upwards of 48. His bat’s length was no smaller than 36 inches. Jackson’s sizing was typical for the dead ball era of baseball where bat speed was undervalued.
What Model Bat did Shoeless Joe Jackson Swing?
There is some evidence he swung a Spalding bat occasionally. But, mostly, he is known for swinging a Hillerich and Bradsby stick. One bat, in particular, was nicknamed the “Black Beauty”, and as the story goes, was made from the East side of a Hickory tree. That bat, made in 1903, broke in 1911 and Jackson sent it into H&B (aka Louisville Slugger) to be repaired.
After his banishment from baseball, a bat named ‘Black Beauty’ would be produced and sold to the public. Today, many of those are worth their weight in gold.
Shoeless Joe Jackson’s Best At Bats
Shoeless Joe Jackson’s dismissal from baseball is one of the great tragedies of the sport. Although acquitted of any wrongdoing by a Jury, Jackson’s assumed knowledge of his teammates’ throwing of the 1919 Series, and a confession, later recanted, of receiving payment, allowed the commissioner to ban him for life.
Shoeless was illiterate.
It has been argued before, and we will do it again here, if Shoeless Joe Jackson was a party to the throwing of the 1919 World Series by the Blacksox, then he did a terrible job at it. In fact, he played better than he had all year in his MVP (if there was such a thing that year) career. Indeed, in the 1919 Series, he hit for a .394 average, a .563 slugging percentage and a .956 OPS. His 1919 season, which was one of his best, averaged just a .351, .422 and .506 respectively.
Further, Jackson recorded 12 total hits on 32 at-bats in the Series—a record that stood for 40 years. Of his 12 hits, 3 were doubles and 1 was a home run. That home run and one of the doubles came in the elimination game. He also led the team with 5 runs and 6 RBIs. Despite several chances, Shoeless Joe would not record a single error through 8 full games.
Jackson may have known about the scandal to throw the game by his teammates. Some of the evidence suggests he at least knew or should have. And, he may have been paid for it by Lefty Williams, possibly unbeknownst to him. But, what we know for sure is this, the illiterate Shoeless Joe Jackson played to win the 1919 World Series. No doubt about it. His recanted testimony and acquittal at trial correlate to his efforts on the field. And after nearly 100 years of banishment for a lifetime sentence—which ended with his death in 1951—its time to let this man in the Hall.
Shoeless Joe Jackson’s Bat Sources
Wikipedia has a helpful article up on Black Betsy. ESPN’s write up of his bat was interesting too. Also, the bat facts section on the PSA site is invaluable. Haul’s of Shame has a write-up that will make you question everything in the memorabilia collection space. Baseball reference is, as always, invaluable.