Posted by: furmanbisher | January 10, 2010

A Memory of Shoeless Joe Jackson

About my interview with Shoeless Joe Jackson, not many realize that it took place in 1949!! That’s right, in the first-half of last century. I was still with the Charlotte News at the time and drove to Greenville, SC, to sit with Joe. Which we did, in metal yard chairs at his home in front of the modest bungalow in which he lived, near the mill village where he had grown up.

It was not a piercing interview, but a quite casual one in which he told his story and I recorded it, to be published in  Sport Magazine, the pioneer of sports magazines. (It is no more, ceased publication about five years ago. I marketed the story to Sport, and each of us was paid $250, and glad to get it in 1949.)

After writing it, I returned to Greenville for his approval and signature—though the public personna of Joe is that he was illiterate, something I seriously doubt. Somewhere in the musty files of Sport Magazine, wherever they may be, there must be a copy of the original, bearing his signature, which would be worth a fortune today. I returned it to the editor—I think it was Ed Fitzgerald then—because I had to.

That’s about it. Strangely, it has gotten more attention in recent years than it did then, having a lot to do with electronic communication. That was not my first view of Shoeless Joe, but that’s another story, dating back to 1934—and that ‘s enough for now.



  1. Dear Mr. Furman,

    I enjoyed reading your recollection regarding your 1949 interview with Joe…

    I myself have spent a great deal of time researching Mr. Jackson (for my original screenplay, my creative thesis / novel, and a short story, or two); and, based on the information I’ve gleaned, I, too, have “serious doubts” about the proposed “fact” that Joe was illiterate.

    I’m curious: Why do you doubt this claim? If you’d like to reply to me personally, please feel free to contact me at the email address provided.

    I thank you for your time, Mr. Furman.


    Don I. Waldo

  2. Mr. Bisher,

    My name is Eric Cheek. I had the honor of sitting at your lunch table last week at the GSGA’s Annual Meeting and Awards Luncheon (I was the younger fellow across from you).

    Just wanted to say how wonderful it was to meet you and what a pleasure it was to hear you speak. I have always ejoyed your unique ability to “tell a story.”

    As for Joe Jackson: I have a great passion for baseball and history, in general, and have always found Shoeless Joe to be a fascinating character in baseball’s story. So glad that you were around to tell that story.

    I am really enjoying the blog! Keep it up!


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