Joe Jackson

Shoeless Joe

“I copied Jackson’s style because I thought he was the greatest hitter I had ever seen, the greatest natural hitter I ever saw.  He’s the guy who made me a hitter.”- Babe Ruth

Do you know who has the third highest career batting average in history?  If you guessed Joe Jackson at .356, you’d be right.  Ty Cobb, Connie Mack and Ruth all claimed he was the best hitter they had ever seen.  Yet Jackson was out of the game by age 31 because of his alleged part in the Black Sox Scandal, when several members of the Chicago White Sox “threw” the World Series after being paid off by gamblers.  Jackson always claimed his innocence in the matter, saying he kept trying to return the $5,000 he received.  Although he hit well during the Series, there were several instances where his effort seemed lacking.  The Black Sox Scandal rocked the game’s foundations, so much so that a new commissioner of baseball, Judge Kenesaw Mountain Landis, banned the guilty for life from the game.  Yet the legend of Shoeless Joe lives on, even the reported story of a nameless young boy who called out to Jackson as he entered the courtroom, “Say it ain’t so, Joe.”  Reportedly Jackson’s last words on his death bed were “I’m about to face the greatest umpire of all and He knows I’m innocent.”

To this day, Judge Landis’ edict prevents Shoeless Joe Jackson from being eligible for the Hall of Fame.

Rickey Henderson

Man of Steel

“If my uniform doesn’t get dirty, I haven’t done anything in the baseball game.”- Rickey Henderson

Arguably the greatest leadoff hitter in history, Rickey Henderson ended his career as the all time leader in runs scored, stolen bases and leadoff home runs.  He stole over 1,400 bases – to put that in perspective, that’s over 400 more than second place held by Lou Brock.  He also shattered Brock’s single season theft total by swiping 130 in 1982.  He terrorized the opposition whenever he reached base because everyone knew he would attempt to steal.

The odd part of Henderson’s career was that he never stayed with any club very long, changing teams 13 times in his 24 seasons.  He played on two World Series winning teams – the Oakland A’s in 1989 and the Toronto Blue Jays in 1993.

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