The Shoeless Joe Jackson Museum and Baseball Library Part I

By: Dan Gibbs

The Shoeless Joe Jackson Museum and Baseball Library is located at 356 Field Street in Greenville, SC. The Museum pays homage to one of the greatest baseball players in Major League Baseball history. The Museum is led by Executive Director Dan Wallach, a Chicago area native and lifelong White Sox fan. The Museum is also located in the house that Joe Jackson and his wife Katie lived in when he moved back to Greenville towards the end of his life. 

Shoeless Joe Jackson was born in nearby Pickens County, SC. He and his family moved to Greenville shortly after his birth where his family started working at the Brandon Mill in Greenville. Joe started working at the mill when he was seven years old. 

Textile League baseball teams were very popular in the early 20th century and Joe was playing for the Brandon Mill baseball team by the age of 13. Several items, including a Brandon Mill baseball uniform, is located in the museum. Joe was playing semi-pro baseball by 1905 when he was about 18 years old. He signed his first professional contract in 1908 with Hall-of-Famer Connie Mack and the Philadelphia Athletics. He made his major league debut later that year. 

He only appeared in 10 games with the Athletics in 1908 and 1909 and he was traded to the Cleveland Naps in 1910, spending most of that season in the minor leagues with the Savannah Indians in the South Atlantic League. He appeared in 20 games with the Naps in a late season call up and he was in the major leagues to stay the next season. 

He set a rookie record with a .408 batting average in his first full season with the Naps in 1911. He was second that season in batting average to Ty Cobb’s .420. He had several great seasons with the Naps but was traded to the Chicago White Sox towards the end of the 1915 season by the cash strapped owner of the Naps in what would now be called a salary dump. The total value of the trade came to $65,500 which was then the most expensive deal in major league baseball history.