Earl Finkler

Earl Finkler

Everyone who has seen the movie Field of Dreams is aware of the star player Shoeless Joe Jackson, who was kicked out of baseball after the Black Sox Scandal during the 1919 World Series.

In the movie, farmer Ray Kinsella takes his daughter around the cornfield and tells her how unfair it was to do that to Shoeless Joe, in spite of his great batting and fielding statistics in the Series.

He likely remembered a commentary by the immortal Connie Mack: “Joe Jackson’s fall from grace is one of the real tragedies of baseball. I always thought he was more sinned against than sinning.”

And Babe Ruth said, “I liked Joe Jackson’s hitting style and with his help, I copied it.”

In the midst of the brutal Midwest winter, I decided to check in with a determined Mike Nola in Florida. He has been trying for more than 30 years to get Joe eligible for the Hall of Fame.

After striking out for about 20 years with the present commissioner, Bud Selig, he said he now has hope with new commissioner Rob Manfred, who is scheduled to take charge in January 2015.

“At one time, we’d collected a million signatures on behalf of Shoeless Joe, but no response,” Nola said. 

Nola said efforts on behalf of Joe will intensify now with the new commissioner, as well as with the media and baseball fans in general. For more information, just look at Nola’s Virtual Hall of Fame at www.blackbetsy.com.

I guess if we dedicated Chicago Cubs fans can wait more than 100 years for a World Series victory, it should be rather easy to wait for action from a new baseball commissioner.

Nola said that joint efforts with Dyersville and Field of Dreams regarding Shoeless Joe would always be helpful. He said that, if Joe were alive today, he would hope that the field is always free and that Joe would appreciate training for young folks in that area.

Nola expressed, in this and earlier interviews, an ongoing concern that the field does not wind up like a Disney attraction. He said he understood the financial benefit the Baseball Heaven could bring to Dyersville and surrounding areas but still has a concern that “the specialness” of the place might someday be gone.