Now that a so-called exciting "treasure trove" of letters, memos and legal documents about the 1919 "Black Sox" World Series has surfaced, what will that material tell us, if anything, about Shoeless Joe Jackson, one of the greatest major league baseball players ever?
And how will America's news media -- fresh from covering a wide range of alleged liars and cheaters on the national sports scene -- play the story?
Will the man who got the nickname "Shoeless" -- after getting blisters on his feet, tossing his spikes and then walking to the batter's box and slamming a triple -- finally get his due in ink?
Will today's journalists help restore Shoeless Joe Jackson's reputation and put him on the path to major league baseball's Hall of Fame in Cooperstown, N.Y.?
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With a lifetime batting average of .357, third-highest in the history of major league baseball, and having amassed 12 hits in the Word Series 88 years ago (a record that still stands), he might be one of the best athletes of the 20th century.
A Greenville native, Jackson came from meager, harsh beginnings as the son of cotton mill workers. He was a lifelong kid at heart, an illiterate who never forgot where he came from, rising to national fame as a power-hitting outfielder for the Philadelphia Athletics, Cleveland Naps and lastly, and most infamously, for the Chicago White Sox.
Accused, with some of his fellow Sox players, of being bought off by gamblers and throwing the 1919 World Series against Cincinnati (even though Jackson batted .375 and swatted the sole homer of that series), he was indicted but found not guilty at trial in 1921.
Nevertheless, then-baseball Commissioner Judge Kenesaw Mountain Landis seemed to have it in for the player legendary for his scorching home runs, known as "Saturday Specials," his "blue darter" line drives that he swatted with his famous bat, "Black Betsy," and his missile-like throws of more than 400 feet.
Landis, major league's first baseball commissioner, permanently banned Jackson and seven of his teammates from the majors.
It was all known as the 1919 "Black Sox" scandal, and newspapers throughout America played it to the hilt.
Never again, because of the unwavering, unconvinced Landis, would one of the most amazing players in history be allowed to work his magic on a major league field.
Never again would the player some baseball historians believe was the game's purest hitter, take to the batter's box or the outfield in the majors. Newspapers of Jackson's era had a big part in seeing to it that neither he nor the public would soon forget about the scandal and Jackson's lifetime ouster from the major leagues.
Baseball historian and author Thomas K. Perry, a Newberry resident, has spent decades researching Shoeless Joe, the focus of Perry's fictional but fact-based biography of the player, told from the perspective of Joe's long-time adoring wife, Katie Wynn Jackson.
Writes Thomas in his book "Just Joe: Baseball's Natural As Told By His Wife" (2007, Pocol Press, Clifton, Va.): "Though some newspaper writers said he left Chicago in disgrace, he certainly never acted that way. The way (newspapers) carried on, it was almost a daily crucifixion."
Newspapers, especially those in northern cities, "rushed to judgment" on Jackson, wrote Thomas in a recent e-mail, adding that the press of that era seemed to back commissioner Landis' ruling with few questions asked.
One publication, "Collier's Eye," tried to "hold baseball's feet to the fire" about the lifetime ban of Jackson, according to Thomas, but others, such as the New York and Chicago rags, were lockstep with Landis and the team owners.
"The (banned) players never stood a chance, and all of them, Jackson included, incurred the wrath of the American public as a result," Thomas added.
He's cautiously hopeful that recently discovered material about the "Black Sox" saga will help clear Jackson's name.
From what little Thomas has seen or can intuit from that find (from two Chicago-area collectors), he thinks there's documented evidence that Jackson and the other banned White Sox players received poor legal advice from their team's owner, Charles Comiskey. This "set them up to take the fall" and kept Comiskey out of the headlines, according to Thomas.
Thomas hopes sports journalists of today will be part of a movement to clear Jackson's name and make him eligible for admittance to baseball's highest pantheon.
Researching Jackson has been a labor of love for Thomas and one in which he has changed his mind, big time, about his subject.
"When I started researching Joe over 20 years ago," Thomas wrote, "I came to the table convinced that he was that big cheat who wrecked my game. After all the studying, listening, and evaluating, I no longer believe that. Should he have been suspended for guilty knowledge? Perhaps, but it should have had limits.
"Wayne Walker, Alex Karras and Paul Hornung were suspended by the NFL for one year because of gambling (and they bet on their own teams, for heaven's sake!"
So, will the nation's media today, so unforgiving of Shoeless Joe Jackson when he found himself in trouble in Chicago in 1919, take a new, more open look at the player believed by many to have the purest, sweetest, God-given swing ever?
The jury is out, once again.