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Shoeless Joe and Ragtime Baseball Paperback – April 1, 1993


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Product Details

  • Paperback: 256 pages
  • Publisher: Taylor Trade Publishing (April 1, 1993)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0878338209
  • ISBN-13: 978-0878338207
  • Product Dimensions: 9 x 6 x 0.7 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 14.9 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (30 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #2,279,103 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Frommer's 30th book is a distinctly minor effort. It tells the tale of the illiterate South Carolina boy who had what Ty Cobb described as the most natural swing in baseball and who was banished from the game following the Black Sox scandal of 1919. But Frommer adds little to what is already known. He makes clear, as have other authors, that Joe Jackson was almost certainly not one of the Chicago players who conspired with gamblers to lose the World Series, although he was approached by those who had and did not report the contacts. Frommer does a fine job of pointing up the dissension between the cliques on the team and makes a plea for Jackson's admission to the Hall of Fame. The book includes a valuable appendix presenting Jackson's testimony before a Chicago grand jury, which reinforces the contention that the player was indeed a tragic victim. Photos not seen by PW.
Copyright 1992 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From Kirkus Reviews

Another peek at baseball's good old days--or, in this case, bad old days--by veteran sports-historian Frommer (Growing Up at Bat, 1989, etc.). Frommer's protagonist in this tale of tragedy and deceit is Shoeless Joe Jackson, whose reputation is undergoing a mini- renaissance thanks to Field of Dreams (1989), although probably not enough of one to propel him into the Hall of Fame (Jackson is widely considered to be the greatest player excluded from the Hall). Frommer paints Shoeless Joe as a baseball natural (``Joe Jackson hit the ball harder than any man ever to play baseball''-- Ty Cobb), an illiterate hick (his table utensils consisted of knife and fingers), and an innocent man snared by the greatest scandal in baseball history. The facts as laid out by Frommer (and many before him) convince: While seven teammates on the 1919 Chicago White Sox threw the World Series, Jackson played errorless ball and hit a spectacular .375. Nonetheless, Commission of Baseball Judge Landis, whom Frommer dislikes (``always one to have his own way, always one to go out of his way to make an extra dollar''), banned Jackson from the game for life. The man who batted .408 in his rookie year ended up playing pseudonymously in pick-up leagues throughout the South. A riveting appendix presents in toto Jackson's testimony before a grand jury investigating the ``Black Sox'' scandal. Otherwise, this biography-cum-history offers many small pleasures (among them, the fact that Jackson's autograph sold in 1990 for $23,100, the highest price of any 19th- or 20th-century signature) but no dazzle; for the Joe Jackson of myth, W.P. Kinsella's Shoeless Joe (1982) can't be beat. -- Copyright ©1992, Kirkus Associates, LP. All rights reserved. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

14 of 16 people found the following review helpful By Amazon Customer on November 13, 2000
Format: Paperback
"Shoeless Joe" is certainly a good read; it's a well-crafted discussion of Jackson, the 1919 season and the era in general and baseball's role in it. However, Frommer does himself and the reader a great disservice by allowing his biases to show through so clearly.
Even those of us who believe that Jackson has no place in Cooperstown and no right to reinstatement empathise with the great hitter. It's hard not to - there is every indication Jackson: naif, illiterate and really not very bright - was taken for a ride by more sophisticated team-mates. However, when it comes down to it, there are statements in Jackson's grand jury testimony (which Frommer helpfully includes) that leave us in no doubt as to the probity of Judge Landis' decision to ban him, and Bartlett Giamatti's later upholding of that order. It is at moments like this where Frommer becomes positively disingenuous. He describes Jackson's receipt of the $5,000 dirty money as if it came from the clear blue sky. He paints a silly picture of Jackson wandering around with a stained envelope bulging with money, begging for Comiskey or anyone else to take it, to listen to him. This is sheer nonsense and Frommer knows it. Jackson admits in his testimony that he was expecting $20,000 and was cheated out of the remaining $15,000 by team-mates shiftier than he. His surprise and dismay at this fact Frommer twists into being disgust at being given any money at all!
Jackson was a sympathetic character, to be sure, but no saint. In his testimony, he freely admits to being told the Series was going to be thrown. He insists that he was effectively "forced" to be in on the fix, that he could "take it or leave it", that his name was included without his consent, that he was in and he might as well take the money.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful By Rob on March 7, 2005
Format: Paperback
If you know the basic story, you're not going to learn anything here. Eight Men Out is a much better account of the 1919 World Series and there are better biographies of Shoeless Joe. Also, this is the only historical work I can ever recall reading that did not contain citaions for all of the quotes. The author also has an unusual manner of using quotes.
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5 of 6 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on June 27, 2004
Format: Paperback
I've read 3 or 4 books on Joe Jackson and/or the 1919 scandal and seen enough movies (8 Men Out, Field of Dreams), to have been familiar with the story of Jackson and the Black Sox. This book gave a little more biographical information about Jackson. It was interesting to know more about his upbringing and early career. However, while a fast read, I don't think this is sterling prose. Seems a little biased toward Jackson, which we are probably all guilty of as time goes by. I do agree with the implicit endorsement by the author of Jackson for the Hall of Fame. It does seem that his illiteracy and ignorance made him an easy target for the gamblers, his corrupt teammates and---later---Comiskey's attorneys. Jackson's grand jury testimony provided as an appendix is probably the best thing about the book. I had never seen that before and found it fascinating.
I would recommend Eliot Asinof's (which the author does too) "Eight Men Out" as a better, more balanced account. Also a very, very good movie if you'd rather not read the book. A great ficitional account, I thought, was "Hoopla" by Harry Stein, which came out a few years ago. I think both of those do a better job in giving us the feel for Chicago and America in those days. A good case is made in both for Buck Weaver as another reluctant participant in the scandal who was probably penalized a little more severely than he deserved.
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5 of 7 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on July 7, 1999
Format: Paperback
"He was the greatest ball player ever from South Carolina. His lifetime batting average was .356, topped only by Ty Cobb and Rogers Honrsby.But Shoeless Joe had to leave the game in disgrace, one of the members of the "Black Sox" accused of throwing the 1919 World Series. Author Frommer argues that Jackson got a raw deal and deserves reinstatement and enshrinement in the Hall of Fame. Frommer's book is something of a biography and partly the story of baseball in the first two decades of this century. He sees Jackson as symbolizing the game's more innocent era, and he calls Jackson a 'folk hero, the representative of a collective nostalgic yearning for an agrarian past.'"
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3 of 4 people found the following review helpful By A Customer VINE VOICE on October 3, 2003
Format: Paperback
Nothing more than sappy baseball nostalgia masquerading as a biography. Totally useless.
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Format: Paperback
Belongs in Essential Baseball Library
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0 of 1 people found the following review helpful By harvey frommer on July 12, 2000
Format: Paperback
The question of legendary hitter Shoeless Joe Jackson's guilt in the 1919 Black Sox scandal is the most compelling mystery in sports. Sports historian and best selling author Harvey Frommer fuses oral history, court testimony ( including complete never-before-published text of Jackson's grand jury testimony), and sparkling narrative to re-create the life and times of the illiterate farm boy who became one of the greatest players of all time.
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0 of 1 people found the following review helpful By harvey frommer on August 5, 2000
Format: Paperback
This book takes its reader deep into the Black Sox scandal and the life of Joe Jackson.
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