Say It Ain’t So, Joe! by
(309 Stories)

Prompted By Cheating

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Say It Ain’t So, Joe!

Apparently cheating is nothing new,  even the Biblical King David cheated on a wife or two.

And cheating in professional sports has been around for a long time too.  Even before Pete Rose and the pine tar,  and the Boston Patriots and eDeflategate,  there was Shoeless Joe Jackson and the World Series fix.

Joe Jackson was a talented left-fielder for the Chicago White Sox when his team won the American League Pennant and would play the Cincinnati Reds in the 1919 World Series.   That year a best-in-9 games format was in place in hopes of increasing baseball’s popularity and bringing in more revenue.   The Series went to 8 games and the Reds won it 5 – 3.

Later however allegations were made that Jackson and 7 other Sox players had thrown the series for payments of $5,000 each (about $75,000 in today’s currency).

A grand jury investigated and during testimony Jackson confessed to his part in the fix.  However in a Chicago trial that followed he was acquitted of wrongdoing after the other players testified that in fact Jackson had not been at meetings planning the fix.   Controversy over his guilt or innocence continued,  but his baseball career was over – the Commissioner banned him from the sport.  The moral of Shoeless Joe’s story – cheating doesn’t pay.

And now you may ask,  did I ever cheat?   I confess to shoplifting on a dare back in junior high school,  but other than that youthful indiscretion I think I’ll take the Fifth.

– Dana Susan Lehrman 

Profile photo of Dana Susan Lehrman Dana Susan Lehrman
This retired librarian loves big city bustle and cozy country weekends, friends and family, good books and theatre, movies and jazz, travel, tennis, Yankee baseball, and writing about life as she sees it on her blog World Thru Brown Eyes!

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Characterizations: , been there, well written


  1. John Shutkin says:

    Good story, Dana. And I know the Shoeless Joe Jackson story well. The sad irony is that, as nototious as it is, it is still not entirely clear that he cheated (as you note). Indeed, I think he had the best batting average of any player in the 1919 Series.

    As for you, all is forgiven. But do you remember what you shoplifted?

    • Thanx John!
      No don’t remember what I shoplifted but possibly a lipstick from Woolworths and, mea culpa, I surely did it more than once as I remember also being with an accomplice – amazing we weren’t caught as we ran out of the store giggling!

  2. Marian says:

    This baseball story is still the classic one for sports fixes, Dana. It seems tame today in terms of the lengths some people will go as far as doping and related activities.

  3. Suzy says:

    Thanks for this interesting story about Shoeless Joe. As I said to Betsy, it’s a good way to avoid writing a personal story about cheating. Is there anyone who didn’t shoplift at least once in their youth? I actually wrote a Retro story about stealing a book in college, which you can find here:

  4. Mister Ed says:

    Great story. I always thought Shoeless Joe got a raw deal. He’s a very sympathetic character. As for Pete Rose, I think he’s high on the list of those with questionable morals and an inability to admit he bet on his own team as a player/manager. But I don’t think he was involved with pine tar. That ignominy belongs to George Brett who was rewarded with induction into the Hall of Fame in 1999.

  5. Khati Hendry says:

    Maybe cheating is bit like lying—it comes in lots of varieties, some much worse than others, but hard to completely avoid in life.

  6. Laurie Levy says:

    Say it ain’t so, Dana. Shoplifting! LOL. My brother and his friends shoplifted a number of items from a store and buried them on the school playground. Guess who got caught? Not very clever cheaters.

    • Thanx Laurie, as Suzy commented, who hasn’t shoplifted in their youth? And who hasn’t taken the Sweet ‘n Low from restaurants? (Of course not to be outdone by Marian’s mother, mine always took the rolls too.)

      I remember visiting my son at college one Fall on Parents Weekend and going out to dinner with his roommate and his parents. The boys left the restaurant with the salt and pepper shakers, a large carved Halloween pumpkin, and an unopened bottle of wine.

  7. Poor shoeless Joe. I wonder if he was ever allowed to play barefoot again. I don’t know if any of those Abrahamic men like King David could be excused, but I’ve missed most of the scandals in baseball, simply because I like to watch large boys play on green grass with sticks and balls. And doesn’t taking the fifth imply guilt? I have to admit, I, too, escaped any personal liability in this prompt by quickly shifting to a topic beyond my own life choices.

  8. Betsy Pfau says:

    Shoeless Joe does live in infamy, Dana. One of those famous cheating scandals that even I’ve heard of (as a loyal Patriots fan, we don’t discuss Deflate Gate, particularly since we went on to win that game even after the balls were replaced by the refs at half time. Much more fun to wonder why Bob Kraft was twice caught driving his Bentley in Jupiter, FL coming from a massage parlor – once on the day of a play-off game – but the arrest for sex trafficking was thrown out).

    Sports cheating is a big worry now that sports betting is legal. Temptation lurks.

    • Understood Betsy, we won’t discuss Deflate Gate.

      As for Bob Kraft’s politics and his life style, good grief! Myra, who was Danny’s friend and Reunion co-chair for many years, and was an outspoken Liberal, must be turning in her grave!

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