Note: The following is one of a series of columns looking at places and events of interest in Bulloch County history.
Another legend of baseball made an appearance in the Coastal Empire, actually coming to Statesboro itself. Joseph Jefferson Jackson, more well-known in baseball circles as "Shoeless" Joe Jackson, arrived in Savannah on May 24, 1925. He had come with his team, the Waycross Coast Liners, to play an All-Star team made up of the very best players in Savannah's City League.
For those who may not recognize the name, Shoeless was one of the eight players in the "Black Sox" scandal of 1919. A very wealthy gambler, Billy Maharg, was accused of offering to pay the Chicago White Sox players some $100,000 to split amongst themselves.
All they would have to do was "throw" the 1919 World Series. He and his partners bet more than $1 million on the Cincinnati Reds, who no one thought had a chance of winning. After some hesitation, they players agreed, and despite the other 17 players best efforts, the Sox lost, the Reds won, and a whole lot of money changed hands.
It turns out that Jackson had warned Chicago White Sox owner Charles Comisky, and when he failed to do anything, had asked to be benched to avoid having to "do his part," which failing this he "took it a little easy" on a couple of occasions.
When baseball's first official commissioner, Kennesaw Mountain Landis, saw that they had gotten away without imprisonment, he banned all those involved from any more involvement with professional baseball forever.
As such, men like Shoeless Joe, so named because he played in his stocking feet whenever his shoes gave him blisters, were forced to join minor league teams willing to hire such top-level talent and look the other way.
As their player and manager in 1924, he had led his teams to the Georgia World Series Championship for two years in a row (1923-Americus & 1924 Waycross). Therefore, the expectations were high for the 1925 team, and rightly so, for they won 59 games and lost only 19.
Those in Savannah drove in their cars, took the special "Baseball Train" put on by the Savannah and Statesboro Railway, or rode the White Bus to Statesboro.
The three games were to be played on a vacant field in Statesboro (now the football practice field) by the Georgia Normal School (now Georgia Southern University) and fans were to be charged 25 cents for regular seats and 50 cents for the grandstand seats.
On the first day, May 25, 1925, the fans were treated to an unexpected surprise: as pitcher Joe McAvoy led the Savannah All Stars to a 7-1 victory.
That put Jackson and his teammates in a serious mood, and on the second day they gave the Savannahians a serious drubbing, beating them 21-3. Jackson starred in this game, as he hit a grand slam over the centerfield fence.
The next game didn't go quite as badly, but the Savannah All Stars were beaten again by the Coast Liners, this time by 7-2.
Roger Allen is a local lover of history. Allen provides a brief look each week at the area's past. E-mail Roger at firstname.lastname@example.org.