by Alex Poletti
Soon after news broke that the New York Yankees and Chicago White Sox would meet at the Iowa cornfield seen in the 1989 hit film “Field of Dreams,” in 2020, the Bronx Bombers signed the ghost of Shoeless Joe Jackson to a one-day deal.
“We are proud to announce that the ghost of Shoeless Joe will join us for the Field of Dreams game next August,” general manager Brian Cashman says. “We think his experience, quick bat and corporeal presence will be a major asset for us in that game.”
Manager Aaron Boone confirms that Jackson will play his natural position in left field. Boone further states that Jackson will start the game on the Dyersville farm, regardless of the handedness of the pitcher.
“We believe in Joe’s hitting abilities,” Boone says. “Although we’ve never actually seen him play, since he’s been dead for over 60 years, we believe his ghost has what it takes to elevate our team.”
This is a particularly low-risk move for the Yanks, as they are already heavy favorites to win against a young White Sox squad. Some have criticized the move, given that Jackson hasn’t played in a very long time, and his professional days were pre-integration. Despite the fact that Jackson faced what modern baseball minds agree is far inferior pitching, the Yankees think the Black Sox legend can still catch up to a major league heater.
“Are there problems with his swing? Probably,” Boone continues. “But on top of this being a tactical move, this is also a symbolic gesture. It’s kind of like Ichiro playing in Japan; a nice homage to a great player with no real bearing on the season’s outcome.”
Much like Ichiro, this contract will likely not continue past the one game in the Hawkeye state. Not so much because of Jackson’s talent, but because his physical existence doesn’t stretch past the foul lines of the field. However, there is doubt that Jackson can even play the game, as then-commissioner Kenesaw Mountain Landis issued a lifetime ban that has not been rescinded.
“The way we see it, he got a lifetime ban,” Cashman says. “They never issued him a deathtime ban.”
While that defense seems sound, the Yankees face more criticism. Many traditionalists in the baseball world believe that the White Sox should have signed Jackson, as Shoeless Joe last played for the Black Sox in 1919. Surely, playing for the same team would have been a wonderful gesture. However, the White Sox fired back by signing Ray Liota and Kevin Costner’s dead dad.