Here's Who Inherited Shoeless Joe Jackson's Money After He Died

One of the more tragic stories to come from the early years of Major League Baseball is that of "Shoeless" Joe Jackson. As Britannica reports, he was a sickly child who grew up in extreme poverty in a South Carolina mill town, only to find that his prowess with a baseball bat could be his ticket out.

Unfortunately for Jackson, he wound up playing for the Chicago White Sox, which were, at the time, owned by legendary cheapskate Charlie Comiskey. So tightfisted was Comiskey, according to The Chicago Public Library, that he even made his players play in dirty uniforms in order to cut back on laundry bills. Of course, Comiskey also paid his players significantly less than other baseball owners — and this was a time when many players had day jobs in the off-season and side businesses to make ends meet, according to Our Sports Central.

Jackson and a handful of his teammates were bribed to throw the 1919 World Series — the "Black Sox scandal" — and though Jackson took their money, whether or not he actually contributed to throwing the series is debated to this day. Regardless, he was banned from baseball, and spent the remainder of his career playing for and managing various semi-pro teams under assumed names. When his baseball days were over, he and his wife owned various businesses, including a dry cleaners and a liquor store, before he died in 1951 at the age of 64.

Shoeless Joe's family

In 1908, Jackson was playing for the Philadelphia Athletics in his first year in the majors. It was at this time that he married the love of his life, Katie Wynn, according to the Shoeless Joe Jackson Museum & Baseball Library. A newspaper account from the time provided by the museum, making clever use of baseball puns, described the nuptials: "Joe Jackson, the popular center fielder of the local team made the greatest home run of his career on Sunday. The home run was made on Cupid's diamond and the victory was a fair young lady. On Sunday afternoon at 4:30 o'clock, Joe was married to Miss Kate Wynn."

Katie stood by her husband through thick and thin, managing his businesses when he was on the field and having his back during and after the Black Sox scandal.

Shoeless Joe and Katie never had any children, according to US History, although Kids Encyclopedia reports that he and his wife raised two of his nephews. According to Oklahoma City News, Shoeless Joe's great-great-great nephew, also named Joe Jackson, played baseball as recently as 2011, and even sometimes caught hell for having the same name as his legendary ancestor; fans would often jokingly shout at him to take his shoes off, as if it were the first time he'd ever heard that joke.

Jackson left everything to Katie

After his baseball career, Jackson returned to the Deep South and opened up and managed various businesses, including, at one time, a dry cleaning service and a liquor store. According to Greenville News, legend has it that one day, years after both of their careers had ended, Ty Cobb stopped by Jackson's Greenville, South Carolina liquor store and picked up a bottle. Though both men seemingly recognized each other, neither said anything, until Cobb finally broke the ice and asked why Jackson didn't acknowledge him. "Sure, I know you, Ty, but I wasn't sure you wanted to know me. A lot of them don't," Jackson reportedly said.

As he closed in on his twilight years, Jackson did what a lot of people of his age did, and sat down with his lawyer to write his will (posted on The Living Trust Network), finalized on March 23, 1951, just a few months before he died. The document is brief; he named his widow, Katie, both the executor of his estate and its sole beneficiary. 

How much money his estate was worth at the time is unclear. He didn't make much money as a Major League Baseball player, and likely made less in the semi-pros. However, his business ventures were described as "successful" by US History

Shoeless Joe's legacy

Though he played over 100 years ago, and died nearly 70 years ago, Shoeless Joe's shadow is still cast over the world of baseball. In what may be the most memorable example of him informing popular culture, his story is part of the narrative in the 1989 film "Field of Dreams," in which Jackson was portrayed by Ray Liotta (via IMDb). In "Eight Men Out," a film about the Black Sox scandal, D.B. Sweeney played Jackson (also per IMDb).

Moving from the realm of fiction and into the realm of nonfiction, there is still the matter that Shoeless Joe is banned from baseball and, as such, can't be inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame (pictured above). Certainly the Chicago White Sox (per Fansided) would like to see that injustice remedied. There's also the Shoeless Joe Jackson's Virtual Hall of Fame website, which will let you vote as to whether or not Jackson should be inducted into the Hall.