Arlene Marcley insists that 94 years has been long enough. Marcley, the president of the Shoeless Joe Jackson Museum in Downtown Greenville, is pushing for a pardon.
On behalf of the museum, Marcley started an online petition at change.org to encourage new Major League Baseball commissioner Rob Manfred to remove Jackson’s name from the league’s ineligible list.
Jackson, a Greenville native, played for three MLB teams from 1908 to 1920. He compiled a career batting average of .356 with 529 extra-base hits on 4,981 at-bats. He recorded 785 RBI with an on-base percentage of .423 and a slugging percentage of .517.
Despite those figures, Jackson is not in the National Baseball Hall of Fame. In 1921, Kenesaw Mountain Landis, the first MLB commissioner, banned Jackson and seven of his Chicago White Sox teammates for allegedly conspiring to fix the 1919 World Series.
Jackson was accused of accepting a $5,000 bribe to misplay fly balls or misfire throws. A jury acquitted Jackson of those charges in a Chicago court. Nevertheless, his name remains on the ineligible list, which banned him from MLB until his death in 1951.
“As long as it’s on that list, he cannot be elected to the hall of fame,” Marcley said. “The only person who can take his name off that list is the baseball commissioner himself. Nobody else can do it. That’s a crying shame.”
Eight commissioners have come and gone since Landis vacated the office. Players like Mickey Mantle and Willie Mays and owners like George Steinbrenner and Marge Schott have been banned, reviewed and reinstated.
Marcley contends that the league has not afforded Jackson the same consideration. She said she is hopeful that stance will change with Manfred, who took office on Jan. 25.
“I’m optimistic,” Marcley said. “He just seems to be more personable and someone who is willing to sit down and talk to you. That’s all we’ve asked for years. Just talk to us and let us tell you about Joe Jackson, about what happened to him. Nobody’s been willing to do that.”
Marcley began promoting the petition Wednesday night. By Thursday morning, it already had 250 signatures. For more information on the museum’s cause, visit the change.org petition page.