The day baseball legend “Shoeless” Joe Jackson played in Hackensack, he had five bats, four hits and a fake name.
Jackson, one of the greatest players to ever be inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame, was a secret. The obscurity was mandatory.
Less than a year earlier, in August 1921, after he and seven Chicago White Sox teammates were accused of throwing the 1919 World Series against the Cincinnati Reds, Jackson was disqualified from Major League Baseball. The “Black Sox” scandal, after being confirmed by the participants, remains one of the most prominent controversies in the history of baseball.
The players associated with Jackson after the scandal were told that they had no chance of playing in the top baseball league. League officials have approved a rule banning Jackson’s future teammates or rivals from competing.
To make a living and protect other athletes, 34-year-old Jackson tried to join the Bergen County Semi-Professional Championship. He adopted a pseudonym, “Josephs”, for his first raid on June 25, 1922.
The unknown outfielder quickly caught the eye, RH Wynkoop, The Record’s sports writer, told the next day’s newspaper. Winning fourth for Westwood, the 6-foot 1-inch left-hander looked much better than his competitor at Hackensack’s Oritani Field.
Jackson threw a runner out of the house from the center. He did a double in his first at-bat and a single in his second. His third was a home game that became a legend, as his Westwood manager confirmed 15 years later in a letter to Jackson.
“I guess the ball goes on,” he said ironically.
The scene must have been “something far outside the Field of Dreams,” said Jacob Pomrenke, chairman of the Baseball Society’s Black Sox Scandal Investigation Committee.
Eventually, Ray Liotta of New Jersey would play “Shoeless” Joe in the hit baseball movie “Field of Dreams.”
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But 100 years ago, Hackensack, one of the most memorable games Jackson would play after his lifetime ban, was also one of the few times Jackson or his other exiled White Sox teammates played with supposed name. It was difficult for Jackson to keep his talents secret and it would prove financially absurd to do so, Pomrenke says.
Although Jackson’s name had been tarnished by the big league ban, he continued to attract fans. Jackson was one of the best baseball players when he left the big leagues. During the 1920’s last season, Jackson had 218 hits in 570 bats for the White Sox. He also recorded a high career 121 streak in over 146 games.
Mystery of centuries
Jackson’s role in the Black Sox scandal is uncertain, says Pomrenke. His playing cards during the 1919 World Series showed no signs of lack of effort. He hit 0.375 and made no mistakes on the field.
In addition, Jackson’s teammates involved in scandals claimed that they never told him about their meetings with the players who gave him the $ 5,000 payment, which almost matched his annual salary. One teammate said the conspirators only relied on Jackson’s name in a bid to give credence to their commitment to drop the nine-game series.
At the end of the following season, Jackson and his teammates were taken to court on charges of fabricating the series. They were acquitted in 1921 by a court, but were nevertheless excluded from Major League Baseball. The data was overwhelming.
Exiled from the major leagues, Jackson was found in Hackensack on June 25, 1922, to be a rented gun. After four hits on five bats, Westwood’s home team beat the Hackensack-Bogota Club 9-7, The Record reported.
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Wynkoop wrote in the newspaper the next day that the sports office was flooded with calls after Sunday’s match. Everyone wanted to know the story of Joseph. It was relatively short: Joseph was the infamous “Apapoulis Joe”.
The revelation shocked the area. The game was canceled. Other teams refused to play Westwood. The consequences led Abe Gildersleeve, Westwood’s manager, to plead not guilty. In a statement to The Record the day after the game, he said he had no idea “Josephs” was Jackson. He said he blindly trusted a mysterious New York agent who promised to send “the best in the business.”
“Under no circumstances would I or any member of the Westwood Baseball Club agree to have such a player on our team,” said Gilderslive. Few bought his claim.
They were wise. In a 1937 letter to Jackson, Gilderslive handed over the ghost. In the letter, he boasted that he “introduced” the slugger for “a game against the Hackensack Oritani Team in 1922” and “under the pseudonym – Josephs… You got a house that is still being discussed by Bergen Co. ,” He wrote.
Gildersleeve’s public denial and apology in 1922 soon faded in favor of contempt. A few days after the game, Gildersleeve boasted of big payouts in Westwood’s future. He asserted that his confession had been obtained through torture and that his confession had been obtained through torture.
At least one Westwood player, Leo Curry, did not feel the same way. Curry, who played for Westwood during the June 25 match under the name Brown because he knew the true identity of his teammate and did not want to be punished for playing with him, was a member of the Hackensack-Bogota team until the end of week. .
Jackson stayed with Westwood, helping the team win home games on July 2 against teams from Virginia and New York. For that Sunday’s two-pointer, nearly 1,000 fans filled the small stadium in Westwood, The Record reported. “Attendance was the best at any game in Westwood for many days,” the article said. “Jackson, of course, was at the center of the attraction.”
When Westwood played Clifton on July 9, Jackson was gone. He would continue to form an all-star touring team to gain fame and eventually play most of his games in the South, Pomrenke says. On July 18, Wynkoop reported allegations from Westwood that Jackson was “up to a baseball player in Bergen County.” The local game went fast, as did Major League Baseball.
“We have come to believe that he wanted almost all the money available for his services after the first games,” Wynkoop wrote. “Jackson’s absence will not be felt. It is a pity he never showed up.”
David Zimmer is a local reporter for NorthJersey.com. For unlimited access to the most important news from your local community, sign up or activate your digital account today.
This article originally appeared on NorthJersey.com: Shoeless Joe Jackson Shakes Bergen County NJ 100 Years Ago