Joe Jackson’s baseball career can be summed up in four sentences: His nickname was “Shoeless” (he once played a game in his socks because his new cleats gave him blisters). He boasted a .356 career batting average, the third-highest in Major League history. He and seven other Chicago White Sox were banned from baseball for purposely losing the 1919 World Series at the behest of some high-rolling gamblers. And he was dumb.
Really, really dumb. It’s often said that “Clueless” would have been a more appropriate nickname than “Shoeless.”
But it’s now official: Pete Rose is dumber.
Rose, of course, is the other should-be Hall of Famer whose gambling problem got him booted from the game. “Charlie Hustle” had more hits (4,256) than any other player, but he also led the league in wagers placed by a manager. While in charge of the Cincinnati Reds from 1984 to 1989, Rose bet $1,000 on every single game.
Just when you start to feel sorry for this guy, just when you begin to think that maybe, just maybe, he deserves a plaque in Cooperstown, he opens his mouth and reminds us exactly why he doesn’t. A book-length confession that fudges the most basic fact is no confession at all.
By the way, if you want to read a great “Shoeless Joe” book, this is the one. You’d like it, too, Pete. It’s fiction…