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Hannibal Courier - Post - Hannibal, MO
  • Diamond Dirt: Author's big mistake insults Beckley's legacy

  • News flash to Mr. Brown, “Shoeless” Joe Jackson is not from Hannibal. He was born in South Carolina and died in South Carolina. He may have passed through on a train? But he is certainly not a native son of this city.

    I’ll tell you who is though, Jake Beckley. The Hall of Famer. One of the greatest first baseman of all time.


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  • Sitting on my desk is a copy of “Ghosts Along the Mississippi River.”
    But I’m not going to read it.
    It’s not because it tells the tales of spirits in the states that border the “Mighty Mississipp” — I enjoy a good ghost story actually — nope, it’s mainly because of the author’s huge mistake in the portion about Hannibal that has nothing to do with ghosts.
    To page 171 I turned to immediately. That’s where the Hannibal portion begins. He gives a brief history about the city and begins to name off the famous figures. Mark Twain is of course the obvious, but then comes the part where he wrote, “However, other notables also hail from Hannibal, such as the ‘Unsinkable’ Molly Brown and Chicago White Sox player ‘Shoeless’ Joe Jackson.”
    And that’s where I shut the book.
    News flash to Mr. Brown, “Shoeless” Joe Jackson is not from Hannibal. He was born in South Carolina and died in South Carolina. He may have passed through on a train? But he is certainly not a native son of this city.
    I’ll tell you who is though, Jake Beckley. The Hall of Famer. One of the greatest first baseman of all time.
    “Shoeless” Joe Jackson is NOT in the Hall of Fame. “Shoeless” Joe Jackson took money to throw the 1919 World Series. Many will debate if he actually did throw it because of the numbers he finished with after Cincinnati won the championship, but Jackson was the kind of guy that was still good even if he tried to be bad. Yet that’s a story for a different time.
    To say that “Shoeless” Joe Jackson is from Hannibal is an enormous insult to the legacy of Jake Beckley. Beckley was a pioneer of our great game, a beloved Hannibal legend and was dead and buried in Riverside Cemetery more than a year when Jackson and his teammates decided to throw the World Series. Yet more readers will miss out on Beckley because Brown wrote that Jackson — a man banned by the game of baseball — hails from America’s Hometown.
    Now I understand that mistakes happen in the writing business. I know. I write and I make mistakes. But there’s a difference between a mistake and the obvious proof of not taking the time to check facts, and that’s what Brown did in this book. He did not take the time to check and be absolutely sure that “Shoeless” Joe Jackson was from Hannibal. If he did, Jake Beckley would be mentioned in the book.
    Brown was probably confused with the popular musical Damn Yankees. At least I’d like to hope so.
    In the play, Joe Boyd (who later becomes baseball star Joe Hardy) is from Hannibal. Joe becomes so popular that there’s even a song for him, “Shoeless Joe from Hannibal, MO.” It’s a nice salute to Jackson and his nickname, but it’s all fictional nonetheless.
    Page 2 of 2 - With the popularity of the musical, one may have the notion that “Shoeless” Joe Jackson was from Hannibal and they worked him into this charming play. However, a simple Google search, a flip through a baseball history book, or a stroll down Hannibal’s historic Main Street where there’s a Jake Beckley Memorial (that is if Brown even came to town research his book), all evidence would show that “Shoeless Joe” is not from Hannibal, Mo.
    And don’t think I’m not reading “Ghosts Along the Mississippi River” just because Brown said Jackson is from Hannibal.
    If the author can’t research and confirm a simple fact about a legendary Hall of Fame baseball player, how can I find the truth in the rest of the book?

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