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.
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.