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Shoeless Joe & Ragtime Basebal Hardcover


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Product Details

  • Hardcover
  • Publisher: Taylor Trade Publishing
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0878337849
  • ISBN-13: 978-0878337842
  • Product Dimensions: 2.5 x 15.9 x 23.5 cm
  • Shipping Weight: 635 g
  • Average Customer Review: 3.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (3 customer reviews)

Customer Reviews

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By A Customer on June 27 2004
Format: Paperback
I've read 3 or 4 books on Joe Jackson and/or the 1919 scandal and seen enough movies (8 Men Out, Field of Dreams), to have been familiar with the story of Jackson and the Black Sox. This book gave a little more biographical information about Jackson. It was interesting to know more about his upbringing and early career. However, while a fast read, I don't think this is sterling prose. Seems a little biased toward Jackson, which we are probably all guilty of as time goes by. I do agree with the implicit endorsement by the author of Jackson for the Hall of Fame. It does seem that his illiteracy and ignorance made him an easy target for the gamblers, his corrupt teammates and---later---Comiskey's attorneys. Jackson's grand jury testimony provided as an appendix is probably the best thing about the book. I had never seen that before and found it fascinating.
I would recommend Eliot Asinof's (which the author does too) "Eight Men Out" as a better, more balanced account. Also a very, very good movie if you'd rather not read the book. A great ficitional account, I thought, was "Hoopla" by Harry Stein, which came out a few years ago. I think both of those do a better job in giving us the feel for Chicago and America in those days. A good case is made in both for Buck Weaver as another reluctant participant in the scandal who was probably penalized a little more severely than he deserved.
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Format: Paperback
I might as well have read the back of a baseball card as have read the book, for all the insight into Jackson's personality it gave me. This book simply read like an extended sports column; I suppose that is all well and good if sports columns are all you ever read, but I expect more from a biography than a collection of blow-by-blow accounts of the games Jackson played in. The man, after all, spent 13 of his 62 years playing in the big leagues. There is scant discussion of his later years. Does Frommer suppose that the reader is not interested in how Jackson came to terms with his status as a disgraced former big-league ballplayer? One is left with the impression that Frommer did not even attempt to scratch the surface when dealing with Jackson's later years.
Couple this with Frommer's clumsy writing style, lack of citations, and bizarre style of quotation, and one is left with a book that was not worth the time spent reading it. I was left with no greater insight into Jackson the man than before I first picked up the book.
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By A Customer on Nov. 30 2002
Format: Paperback
"A tremendous account. . . I must refer anyone who has any interest in the Black Sox Scandal to Shoeless Joe and Ragtime Baseball. There is a shiny gold sticker on the jacket of Frommer's book, by the way, announcing that it contains "Never before published -- Joe Jackson's complete Grand Jury Testimony." . . .The testimony is worth reading. Frommer quotes Joe Jackson: "I never said anything about it [the plot to throw the Series] until the night before the Series started. I went to see Mr Comiskey and begged him to take me out of the lineup .... If there was something going on I knew the bench was the safest place, but he wouldn't listen to me...." I would love to fill about ten pages with excerpts from Shoeless Joe and Ragtime Baseball, but will not. Get the book. It's a fascinating and fast read.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)

Amazon.com: 30 reviews
14 of 16 people found the following review helpful
Let down by bias Nov. 13 2000
By Amazon Customer - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback
"Shoeless Joe" is certainly a good read; it's a well-crafted discussion of Jackson, the 1919 season and the era in general and baseball's role in it. However, Frommer does himself and the reader a great disservice by allowing his biases to show through so clearly.
Even those of us who believe that Jackson has no place in Cooperstown and no right to reinstatement empathise with the great hitter. It's hard not to - there is every indication Jackson: naif, illiterate and really not very bright - was taken for a ride by more sophisticated team-mates. However, when it comes down to it, there are statements in Jackson's grand jury testimony (which Frommer helpfully includes) that leave us in no doubt as to the probity of Judge Landis' decision to ban him, and Bartlett Giamatti's later upholding of that order. It is at moments like this where Frommer becomes positively disingenuous. He describes Jackson's receipt of the $5,000 dirty money as if it came from the clear blue sky. He paints a silly picture of Jackson wandering around with a stained envelope bulging with money, begging for Comiskey or anyone else to take it, to listen to him. This is sheer nonsense and Frommer knows it. Jackson admits in his testimony that he was expecting $20,000 and was cheated out of the remaining $15,000 by team-mates shiftier than he. His surprise and dismay at this fact Frommer twists into being disgust at being given any money at all!
Jackson was a sympathetic character, to be sure, but no saint. In his testimony, he freely admits to being told the Series was going to be thrown. He insists that he was effectively "forced" to be in on the fix, that he could "take it or leave it", that his name was included without his consent, that he was in and he might as well take the money. It is startling that Frommer believes that gamblers, Mafiosi and crooks operate to a moral code that involves tracking people down who want no involvement in their scam and begging them to accept large cash payments for not doing anything.
Then there is the statistical fudging. Jackson makes much of the fact that he hit well in the Series and made no errors, but outfielders are rarely charged with errors in any case. There were two triples hit to left field when Jackson was playing there - and a triple to left against a high-caliber left fielder is extremely unusual. As for Jackson's production with the bat, his 12 hits seem concentrated in meaningless situations, and his habit of striking out when it got really important is noticeable. One can't conclude for certain that Jackson himself threw games, but the matter is certainly not settled. In any event, given the circumstances, it is almost irrelevant - Jackson was tainted to an extent that made a further career baseball impossible.
Frommer uses another unsavory tactic popular with Jackson's boosters - a headlong attack on Judge Kenesaw Mountain Landis. Landis has posthumously acquired a thoroughly undeserved image as the George Wallace of baseball based on a fishy tale told by Bill Veeck. Frommer minces no words, calling Landis "anti-woman, anti-minority, anti-nonwhite" and a few more antis, too. While personnel decisions for the teams. By attacking Landis in this manner, Frommer seeks to strengthen his case for Jackson. I believe he weakens it, and that the integration card is not one that he should try to play in defense of a hard-nosed white South Carolinian and friend of Ty Cobb.
It is clear that this disingenuity and dishonesty is born of fannish obsession rather than malice, as Frommer gives us the no-holds-barred "Field of Dreams" hero-worship view of Joe. However, it is disingenuous nonetheless. Near the end, Frommer gives us a list of unanswered questions, which are often unanswerable or irrelevant. "If the fix was in, how come Joe hit so well" sorts of things. The real question is:
* Why did Joe think that he was going to get $20,000?
What had he done to earn this money, what had he heard that made him think he was going to get it, what basis did he have for believing he would receive it? Joe testifies that he knew the Series was being fixed and he was expecting to receive $20,000 from those involved. Why? Are we expected to believe that he was sought out and forced to accept this money? Or is it not more likely that his version of events changed somewhat when he only received $5,000? Can you really make a credible defence of someone who knew there was a fix, and took money related to the fix, but then claimed not to be in on the fix and not to do anything to fix the Series?
Frommer includes a quote by Judge Landis which he clearly thinks is unreasonable, but which I think is a keystone of honest baseball:
"Regardless of the verdict of juries, no player that throws a ball game; no player that undertakes or promises to throw a ball game; no player that sits in a conference with a bunch of crooked players and gamblers where the ways and means of throwing games are planned and discussed and does not promptly tell his club about it, will ever play professional baseball."
It is sad that the sweet swinging Joe Jackson will never have a plaque in Cooperstown, and that his sensational career was cut off in its prime, but those things are Jackson's fault, not Landis'. We sacrificed that plaque and that career to have clean baseball and it was worth it.
5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
Very Superficial March 7 2005
By Rob - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback
If you know the basic story, you're not going to learn anything here. Eight Men Out is a much better account of the 1919 World Series and there are better biographies of Shoeless Joe. Also, this is the only historical work I can ever recall reading that did not contain citaions for all of the quotes. The author also has an unusual manner of using quotes.
5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
Some good info, OK reading June 27 2004
By A Customer - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback
I've read 3 or 4 books on Joe Jackson and/or the 1919 scandal and seen enough movies (8 Men Out, Field of Dreams), to have been familiar with the story of Jackson and the Black Sox. This book gave a little more biographical information about Jackson. It was interesting to know more about his upbringing and early career. However, while a fast read, I don't think this is sterling prose. Seems a little biased toward Jackson, which we are probably all guilty of as time goes by. I do agree with the implicit endorsement by the author of Jackson for the Hall of Fame. It does seem that his illiteracy and ignorance made him an easy target for the gamblers, his corrupt teammates and---later---Comiskey's attorneys. Jackson's grand jury testimony provided as an appendix is probably the best thing about the book. I had never seen that before and found it fascinating.
I would recommend Eliot Asinof's (which the author does too) "Eight Men Out" as a better, more balanced account. Also a very, very good movie if you'd rather not read the book. A great ficitional account, I thought, was "Hoopla" by Harry Stein, which came out a few years ago. I think both of those do a better job in giving us the feel for Chicago and America in those days. A good case is made in both for Buck Weaver as another reluctant participant in the scandal who was probably penalized a little more severely than he deserved.
5 of 7 people found the following review helpful
JACKSON: symbol of game's more innocent era/THE STATE, July 7 1999
By A Customer - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback
"He was the greatest ball player ever from South Carolina. His lifetime batting average was .356, topped only by Ty Cobb and Rogers Honrsby.But Shoeless Joe had to leave the game in disgrace, one of the members of the "Black Sox" accused of throwing the 1919 World Series. Author Frommer argues that Jackson got a raw deal and deserves reinstatement and enshrinement in the Hall of Fame. Frommer's book is something of a biography and partly the story of baseball in the first two decades of this century. He sees Jackson as symbolizing the game's more innocent era, and he calls Jackson a 'folk hero, the representative of a collective nostalgic yearning for an agrarian past.'"
3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
Simply awful Oct. 3 2003
By A Customer - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback
Nothing more than sappy baseball nostalgia masquerading as a biography. Totally useless.

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