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“I can truthfully say, in all my playing days … I never shirked a duty to baseball.” – Shoeless Joe Jackson

As the dogwoods start to bloom on North Main Street and the mild temps call you to Falls Park, the West End comes alive with the sounds of cheering crowds and the distinctive “CRACK” of baseball bats. When the Greenville Drive’s 2013 season opens Thursday, April 4th, it will be the latest chapter in this city’s rich baseball history. For more than a century, Greenville has been involved in a deeply committed love affair with “America’s Game”.

Long before The Drive…or even the G-Braves…came to town, the surrounding mill towns and their baseball teams had already given us local heroes whose prowess at bat was the stuff of legends. Undoubtedly the greatest of these near-mythical figures was Joe Jackson. Dubbed “Shoeless Joe” by fans, this humble man started his extraordinary baseball career right here in Greenville. The son of a sharecropper, Joe first went to work in textile mills as a child. As a young teen, he was recruited to join the mill’s baseball team as its youngest player. First positioned as a pitcher, Joe was quickly moved to left field, the position he would play for the rest of his career, after his massive fastball actually broke another player’s arm. But it was at bat that Joe really made his mark. Swinging his beloved “Black Betsy”, Joe set record after record – many of which stll stand today. His remarkable talent soon caught the eye of major league scouts. After playing with several professional teams, Joe was signed by the Chicago White Sox in 1915. Over the next four seasons, he became Chicago’s favorite sports hero, leading the league in batting statistics and winning the admiration of fans and fellow players alike. Babe Ruth even modeled his batting style after Joe’s and Ty Cobb said Joe was “the finest natural hitter in the history of the game”. Joe’s legend began to crumble when he and seven of his teammates were accused of “throwing’ the 1919 World Series in what became known as the “Black Sox Scandal”. Despite the fact that Jackson had 12 hits (a Series record), a .375 batting average (the best of both teams) committed no errors, and he and the other seven were acquitted of fraud charges, the “Chicago Eight” were banned from baseball for life by Commissioner Kennesaw Landis. He never played professional baseball again after the 1920 season. After residing in various towns throughout the South, Joe returned to Greenville in 1933 where he and his wife opened a liquor store. Jackson remained a beloved citizen of his hometown until his death in 1951. He is buried next to his wife, Katie, in Greenville’s Woodlawn Memorial Park. Shoeless Joe continues to be a hero to baseball fans all over the world. He still hold franchise records for both the Indians and the White Sox for both triples in a season and career batting average. He was a pivotal character in the films “Eight Men Out” and “Field of Dreams”. In 1999, he was #35 on “The Sporting News'” list of the 100 Greatest Baseball Players and was chosen by MLB fans as the 12th best outfielder of all time. Yet, despite vast amounts of evidence proclaiming his innocence and numerous pleas from fans, Greenville citizens, professional ball players and even members of Congress, Shoeless Joe continues to be blacklisted from baseball, thus preventing his well-deserved inclusion in the National Baseball Hall of Fame.

The house where Joe spent his final years can be visited by fans today. In 2006, his modest home was dismantled and moved from its original site on Wilburn Avenue to its current location on Field Street, across from Fluor Field, to become the Shoeless Joe Jackson Museum and Baseball Library. The house number was changed to 356 to reflect Jackson’s lifetime batting average. The not-for-profit museum displays records, photographs, films and personal artifacts from Joe’s baseball career and historic life. An impressive collection of books pertaining to baseball and its place in American culture, were mostly donated by baseball enthusiasts and are now housed in the room which once held Joe’s trophies. The admission to this poignant museum is free (although donations are greatly appreciated). It is open Saturdays from 10AM to 2PM.

More of Shoeless Joe’s legacy in Greenville is found Downtown. A life-size statue, depicting Joe in his White Sox uniform, swinging for the bleachers, can be seen outside the West End Market in Shoeless Joe Jackson Plaza. The statue was created in the lobby of City Hall in full view of visitors and locals alike. Artist Doug Young made this piece a true community project, allowing guests to participate in the creation of the work by kneading the clay used in the sculpture. The work was unveiled on July 13, 2002 in a ceremony attended by over 700 people. In West Greenville, just off Shoeless Joe Memorial Highway, is the Shoeless Joe Memorial Park. Once part of the thriving Brandon Mill community (Jackson’s childhood home), this 8 acre park property features a lighted baseball field, dugouts, a playground and picnic shelters and is located near where Joe played baseball as a boy.

When the Greenville Drive takes the field this spring, fans will have the chance to take part in Greenville’s historic baseball legacy. Since their 2005 move to Greenville, this Class A affiliate of the Boston Red Sox has been embraced by baseball fans and non-fans alike. Their home stadium at Fluor Field shares dimensions with their parent club’s major league field at Fenway Park. It even boasts its own “Green Monster” – complete with a manual scoreboard just like the original, and “Pesky’s Pole” in right field. Fluor Field was named “Ballpark of the Year” in 2006 by Baseballparks.com – beating out such legendary stadiums as St. Louis’ Busch Stadium. Although many fans lobbied to have the team name changed to “The Greenville Joes” in honor of our city’s favorite son, the name “Greenville Drive” reflects Greenville’s automotive history and ties to the industry through BMW and Michelin.

So join us Downtown to cheer on the home team and while you’re there, take in some of Greenville’s incredible baseball history. What could be more All-American? GO DRIVE!

For more info…
Greenville Drive: Greenville’s Class A minor league team opens their season on April 4th, with home games at Fluor Field also taking place at 7PM the 5th & 6th and a 4PM game on Sunday the 7th. Tickets are available for $7-$9 in advance or $8-$10 at the gate. For a full schedule, statistics and a team roster, visit http://www.milb.com/index.jsp?sid=t428

Shoeless Joe Jackson: To learn more about the amazing life and career of Greenville’s favorite baseball legend, visit http://www.shoelessjoejackson.com/

Shoeless Joe Jackson Museum and Baseball Library: This wonderful museum, in Jackson’s former home, is open Saturdays, 10AM – 2PM. Admission is free, but donations are greatly appreciated. It is located on Field Street, across from Fluor Field. For more information, visit: http://www.shoelessjoejackson.org

Shoeless Joe’s Gravesite: Joe and his wife, Katie, are buried at Woodlawn Memorial Park, located at the corner of Wade Hampton Boulevard and Pleasantburg Drive in Greenville. To locate the grave, turn at the first right after entering the cemetery, then bear left at the “Y”. Stop approximately 30 feet short of the next intersection and look along the left curb for the Landers plot. Joe’s grave is marked with a flat marker 9 rows behind Landers. If you cannot find it, ask employees in the Administrative Office and they will show you.

Shoeless Joe Jackson Statue: This life-size statue of Joe is located in Shoeless Joe Jackson Plaza beside the West End Market. For more information, visit http://www.greenvillesc.gov/Culture/ArtinPublicPlaces/Shoeless.htm

Shoeless Joe Memorial Park: Located in West Greenville’s historic Brandon Mill Community, this recreation park features a lighted baseball park and dugouts. For more information, visit: http://greenvillerec.com/parks/4/shoeless-joe/

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If you have kids, there’s a good chance you’ve had your precious little ones look up at you and sigh “I’M BORED”! Well, fear not, my fellow harried parental units, there are so many kid-friendly happenings taking place in Downtown Greenville, you may actually be able to go 48 hours without even hearing that phrase. But there is a possibility it may be replaced with “I’m tired”!

Animal lovers are in luck this weekend, with two fun and furry events featuring  lots of lions and tigers and…DOGS? Yes friends…if you like wet noses and waggly tails, come out to Cleveland Park for the Mutt Strut.  This fun 5K Run/Walk takes place Saturday, August 25th and  invites individuals, families, competitive athletes and leisurely strollers, and their dogs to participate in this paw-fect fundraiser for the Greenville Humane Society.  Registration begins at 6:30AM at The First Baptist Church  with the race (which goes along the Swamp Rabbit Trail and through Cleveland Park) starting at 8:30AM. Registration fees range from $25-$30. Participants are invited to stay and enjoy the “Mutt Strut Village,” featuring live music, refreshments and treats for two and four-legged competitors.  For more information on this event, visit http://www.ghsmuttstrut.com.

If you like animals of a more exotic type, then come out to the Greenville Zoo for their annual Zoo-A-Palooza. B93.7 is taking over the zoo Saturday, August 25th and is inviting you to the party! Festivities kick off at 6:30PM and feature food and drinks, BEE prizes and tons of family-friendly fun with acoustic performances by recording artists Austin Mahone and Chris Wallace. Proceeds benefit zoo operations and provide enrichment funds for the animals at the Greenville Zoo. Tickets are $5 in advance, $10 at the gate. For more information, visit: www.greenvillezoo.com.

If you are more of the creative sort of family, then the Upcountry History Museum is the place for you! This weekend, the museum hosts two Folk Art Workshops with artist Lonnie Holley – one for adults and one for families. The Adult Folk Art Workshop is Saturday, August 25th at 10:30AM and the Family Workshop is on Sunday, August 26th at 2PM. Originally from Birmingham, Alabama, Lonnie Holley creates beautiful works of folk art using “found” items. His work is displayed all over the world, including the Upcountry History Museum’s “ Uniquely Southern Folk Art” exhibit (on display until September 2). Join Mr. Holley to learn how to create a work of folk art of your own!  Materials will be provided and kids are free with an adult admission.  For more information, visit www.upcountryhistory.org.

Of course, Downtown Greenville offers many activities to keep both kids and parents happy and occupied. Hunt for the Mice on Main, take in a Greenville Drive game at Fluor Field (they are home this weekend), or visit The Children’s Museum of the Upstate to explore the fun exhibits and take part in the TCMU Summer Olympics.  Afterwards, stop by The Chocolate Moose on Main for a yummy cupcake or Luna Rosa or Blueberry Frog for a scoop of refreshing gelato or frozen yogurt.  Family time in Downtown Greenville is always time well spent!

For More…

Mice On Main – Inspired by the children’s book, “Good Night Moon”, these adorable little mouse sculptures can be found peeking out from various locations throughout Downtown. For a list of hints, visit: www.miceonmain.com.

Greenville Drive – Greenville’s minor league baseball team plays their home games at Fluor Field. For a game schedule and ticket information, visit: http://www.milb.com

The Children’s Museum of the Upstate – A fun, interactive museum for children, TCMU continues to be a favorite with kids and parents alike. Current exhibits include Garage Rock, BI-LO Market, Kaleidoscope Climber and Healthy Heroes. Museum admission also includes access to the many classes and activities offered to visitors. For more information, visit: www.tcmupstate.org

 



It’s Sunday morning and you’ve awaken with the desire to do something. Not just anything, but something that’ll rev up your internal engine, wind up your weekend and kickstart a new week! Well, my friend, it sounds like a trip to Downtown Greenville is in order!

Brunch is an excellent way to get your Sunday moving in the right, adventurous direction. Several Downtown establishments offer brunch and the choices are as varied as your tastes. Want a brunch that has a certain laid-back sophistication? Then, try the Jazz Brunch at High Cotton. With a mouth-watering selection of Southern classics (my personal favorite is the Crab Cakes Benedict), many foodies deem this a weekend necessity.  Serving brunch from 11AM until 2PM, this Sunday’s musical entertainment will be provided by local talent and High Cotton regulars, The Ian Bracchitta Trio. Some other great choices for brunch include The Green Room (serving brunch all day from 9AM until 5PM), The Bohemian (serves brunch from 11AM until @2PM), Mary Beth’s (especially good for early risers, serves brunch from7AM until 3PM), American Grocery Restaurant (Fresh, local ingredients, brunch served 11AM-2PM) or the Spoonbread Restaurant at The Poinsett Hotel (a Greenville institution, serving brunch from 10AM until 2PM).

After brunch, stroll down College Street to Heritage Green and the Greenville County Museum of Art. Every Sunday at 2PM, the art museum offers a wide range of special events and programs at their appropriately named “Sundays @ 2”. The schedule includes artist and gallery talks, special tours, music, and demonstrations. These events are free and many are designed with families in mind. The next two Sundays feature “Music in the Galleries” with the Pride of Greenville Men’s Chorus on the 29th and Celtic Singer Judy McKenney on August 5th. After the performance, take a few moments to tour the evocative, ever-changing exhibits on display. The Greenville Museum of Art is open from 1PM until 5PM on Sundays.  For more information, visit http://www.greenvillemuseum.org.

If you wish to continue your “artsy vibe”, then consider checking out Greenville’s thriving theatre scene. Many of Downtown’s community theatre’s feature matinee times for recent performances. Currently showing at Centre Stage is the 60’s inspired musical, “Beehive”. The play runs through August 11 and matinees are at 3PM, Tickets are $25 for adults, $15 for students and available through the Box office or online at http://centrestage.org. If Shakespeare is more your thing, then head over to Falls Park at 7PM for Shakespeare in the Park. This “motley crew” of players tells the Bard’s tales, with a modern twist. Currently showing is a contemporary adaption of “Henry V”, complete with “mosh pit” battle scenes to the Celtic-punk tunes of Dropkick Murphys!  Even your bored teens will get into this! Performances are free, but donations are greatly appreciated.

If the evening finds you with the urge to be in air-conditioned comfort, then look no further than Coffee Underground. For some sick rhymes taken with some medicinal caffeine, join other wordsmiths for the Wit’s End Poetry Slam. Regional artists, including the renowned poets from Unified Sol, heat up Sunday nights with some cool poetic insight during this open mic event. Doors open at 7:30PM, everyone is welcome and there is a $5 cover charge. For more information, visit: www.coffeeunderground.biz.

No matter what your interests are, there’s always something to do Downtown. From the many shops and art galleries and museums such as the Upcountry History Museum and The Children’s Museum, to a bike ride on the Swamp Rabbit Trail or a Drive game at Fluor Field, there’s always an event to suit your mood. For a detailed list of daily Downtown happenings, check out the Downtown Greenville Facebook Fan Page at www.facebook.com/DowntownGreenvilleSC.

Here are some more fun Sunday Things to do Downtown:

Upcountry History Museum:  A family-friendly interactive museum showcases the diverse history of Greenville and the Upstate. Sunday hours are 1PM until 5PM and Admission is $5 for adults, $3 for children 4-18. www.upcountryhistory.org

The Children’s Museum: A kid-friendly, interactive museum that encourages creative play. Special daily events, programs and classes offered, usually at no additional cost. Sunday hours are 11AM to 5PM and Admission is $9 for children 2-12 and $10 for adults. www.tcmupstate.org

Artists Guild Gallery of Greenville:   Featuring work from local artists that are available for sale, this gallery also hosts receptions and other special events open to the public. Admission is free and Sunday hours are 1PM until 5PM. http://artistsguildgalleryofgreenville.org

Greenville Zoo: Located near Cleveland Park, this small Zoo is very family-friendly. Sunday hours are 9AM until 5PM. Admission is $7.75 for adults, $4.50 for kids 3-15. For a list of special Zoo events, see www. greenvillezoo.com

Greenville Drive: Greenville’s minor league baseball team, who plays home games at Fluor Field. Sunday home games usually start at 4PM. Tickets are $5 – $8 and are available through the box office or online. For tickets or game schedule, see http://www.milb.com.

Swamp Rabbit Trail: This17.5 mile multi-use trail system runs along the Reedy River connecting Travelers Rest with the City of Greenville. For a map of the trial, visit http://greenvillerec.com/parks/swamprabbit/

Reedy Rides: Dedicated bicycle rental business located in downtown Greenville. Can deliver bikes right to the Swamp Rabbit Trail. Sunday hours are 8AM to 8PM. For more info, call (864) 419-2944

Downtown Trolley:  The trolley runs Downtown on Sundays from 1PM until 8PM and rides are free of charge.  Download a map of the trolley route at  http://www.greenvillesc.gov

 



Growing up in Georgia, my best friend and I would anxiously count down the days leading up to the 4th of July. Then, when the big day was less than 24 hours away, my older brother would load us up in his tiny MG (it’s a good thing we were also tiny) and cross the Savannah River over into South Carolina to purchase fireworks. It was against the law to actually sell fireworks in Georgia, but for some reason, it was okay to purchase the mini-explosives elsewhere and bring them into the state. Then, as darkness fell over our suburban cul-de-sac, my brother and father would shoot off bottle rockets, firecrackers and Roman candles, much to the delight of the neighborhood kids, who gathered to watch at a safe distance. As a child, I didn’t think the 4th of July could get any better…but, boy, was I wrong!

One would think that Greenville, with a history rich in Revolutionary War stories, would have a blast of a 4th, and our Red, White & Blue Festival strives to do just that!  Showcasing one of the state’s largest fireworks displays, which, I hate to admit, is so much better than the one my family produced, this free event is a favorite with young and not-so-young alike. From 5PM until 10:30PM, Downtown Greenville will be a celebration of our freedoms with live entertainment, great food and children’s events, encompassing Main Street from Court to Camperdown. Kicking off the live music will be Nashville recording artists Outshyne at 5:30PM, followed at 7:30PM by The Army Ground Forces Band’s Jazz Guardians.  And what would the 4th be without fireworks?  To really pay tribute to the birth of our nation, Downtown’s fireworks display will be synchronized to patriotic music, starting at 9:45PM. For more information about the festivities, visit http://www.greenvillesc.gov.

Now for many people, the 4th is not the 4th without some baseball, a picnic and a parade. If you want to save the Red, White & Blue festival for later (or just want to swing by long enough to catch the fireworks), start your Independence Day with the Freedom Celebration and Picnic at the Vietnam Memorial at Cleveland Park. From 11AM until 3PM, join your fellow Greenvillians to celebrate our freedoms and to thank those who kept them for us. For details on this event, call 242-4110. After your picnic, and perhaps a stroll Downtown, join the residents of the North Main area for their annual Earle Street 4th of July Parade. Starting at 7PM from Earle Street to Main, this small neighborhood parade celebrates our independence in an event so All-American, it almost looks like a Norman Rockwell painting. For more information, call 232-5332. Or, if you want to celebrate America by catching a bit of America’s Game, head to Fluor Field at 7PM to cheer on the Greenville Drive (plus, it’s a primo location to catch the Downtown Fireworks display). For ticket information, visit http://www.milb.com.

The fun doesn’t stop there! Get the kids excited about our Independence Day celebrations by stopping at The Children’s Museum first for a little Red, White & Blue Art (at 1PM).  Looking for something to entertain the grown-ups after the fireworks? Then treat yourself to some Red, White & Blues at Smiley’s Acoustic Café with Freddie Wooten & Friends or Smoke on the Water with Jellyroll Antenna. With all these ways to celebrate our independence, I think even George Washington would be impressed! Happy 4th of July!

For a list of these and more 4th of July Events in and around Downtown Greenville, check out http://www.facebook.com/DowntownGreenvilleSC/notes#!/notes/downtown-greenville-sc/fourth-of-july-celebrations-in-downtown-greenville-beyond/380510058670266



Downtown Greenville, with its fresh beauty and friendly people, is an almost idyllic place to live, work and play. But I believe its true beauty is found in the good-hearted folks who give selflessly of their time and money to help others. From people who volunteer at city-wide events and area non-profits to local businesses who contribute their talents and proceeds to those in need, Downtownies are always willing to do all they can to benefit great causes.  April is National Volunteer Month and DTGVL offers many opportunities to support some wonderful local charities, either by taking part in a benefit event or by volunteering.

The first wonderful event does not actually happen Downtown, but nearby. On April 11, Furman University will play host to the extraordinary athletes of The Special Olympics. Beginning at 9:45AM with a parade of athletes and the lighting of the Flame of Hope, this heart-warming event, coordinated by the Greenville County Recreation Division and Furman, offers a full day of track and field events for over 1,000 Special Olympians.  In addition to track events, participants will also be treated to refreshments and an on-site carnival at “Olympic Town”. The games themselves begin at 10:30AM in Paladin Stadium.

This weekend boasts an eclectic mix of attendance-worthy affairs. If you enjoy a little baseball with your caviar, then make plans to attend “Black Tie and Baseball Diamonds” at Fluor Field. Attendees of this April 14th soiree will enjoy fine food, music and an incredible auction of some seriously cool items including a Gamecocks Football Package, a Clemson Tigers Baseball Package and a Charleston Vacation. Proceeds benefit Juvenile Diabetes Research.

If you’re looking for a Saturday bash that rocks, look no further than The HandlebarGumbyFest features a line-up of local faves, including Ramcat Alley, JoJo Taterhead Revival, Decadent Daze and Second to None. Proceeds will help fund cancer treatments for longtime supporter of Greenville’s music community, Charlene Davis. The joint starts jumpin’ at 8PM, but you may want to come a little earlier to buy tickets for their 50/50 raffle.

On Sunday, April 15th, Downtown Greenville will be invaded by digital scavengers taking part in “Seek & Snap 2012”. This digital scavenger hunt takes place from 1-6PM and benefits Let There Be Mom. Seek & Snap is just one of the fantastic annual events benefitting this deserving organization that aids parents facing terminal illness.

Thursday, April 19th, high fashion goes to the dogs! Join fellow animal lovers at Wyche Pavilion to watch local celebrities and their canine companions strut their stuff on the catwalk. Pet Project Runway is a pawsitively  delightful fashion show that benefits The Greenville Humane Society.  Doors open at 6PM and will include an open bar and yummy hors d’oeuvres – encouraging guests to “sit” & “stay”!

If you want to contribute your time to a worthy cause, Hands on Greenville is worth checking out.  Created for good-hearted people with busy schedules, this brilliant organization offers volunteer opportunities that vary from soup kitchen work to taking underprivileged children on fun outings. On May 5th, they will be sponsoring their HOG Day 2012, which encourages families, individuals, corporations and teams to give back to their communities through volunteering. Teens that have a love of the literary will also have the opportunity to volunteer at Hughes Main Library. The monthly Teen Volunteer Day encourages young people to participate in public service. April’s TVD will take place on April 14th for 1-4PM.

This is just a glimpse into all the good work done by area non-profits. Some of these events may already be sold out, but don’t let that deter you! For more information on these incredible charities and their selfless missions, visit their websites (provided below). I encourage you to take part in their mission by attending a fundraiser, making a monetary donation or volunteering your time and talents to help them achieve their goals. It’ll make you feel all warm and fuzzy inside!

But wait! There’s more…

Special Olympics: The Special Olympics program offers training and competition in 15 different sports. Two full time Recreation District staffers direct these programs with help from hundreds of community volunteers.  There are no fees for Special Olympics programs. For more information, visit: http://greenvillerec.com/activities-and-programs/special-olympics

Black Tie and Baseball Diamonds / JDRF: This fun and  fancy affair seeks to raise funds to  help young victims of Type I diabetes live longer, healthier lives and to reach their goal of finding a cure! For more information on this event and  Juvenile Diabetes Research, visit: https://jdrf-westerncarolinas.ejoinme.org/?tabid=323750

GumbyFest: To find out more about this benefit for Charlene Davis – a cornerstone of the Greenville music community who is battling cancer, visit The Handlebar’s event calendar at http://www.handlebar-online.com/calendar.asp

Seek and Snap 2012 / Let There Be Mom: Let There Be Mom was created to aid parents who are facing terminal illness. LTBM assists moms and dads alike in preserving their memories and  family legacy to pass on to their children. To learn more about this amazing charity, and their annual fundraisers, visit: http://lettherebemom.org/

Pet Project Runway / Greenville Humane Society: This fun fashion event benefits The Greenville Humane Society, who works tirelessly to find good homes for homeless animals. For more information on this event,  animal adoptions and other GHS programs, visit: http://www.greenvillehumane.com/

Hands On Greenville: When an area non-profit needs volunteers for an awareness, service or fundraising event, they turn to Hands on Greenville. This organization matches willing volunteers with deserving area charities in a perfect partnership. Their annual HOG Day encourages residents to participate in public service to benefit their communities. For more information on this wonderful organization or to discover volunteer opportunities, visit: http://www.handsongreenville.org/

Teen Volunteer Day / Hughes Main Library: For more information on this and other Teen programs hosted by the Greenville Library System, email jbabb@greenvillelibrary.org



“I can truthfully say, in all my playing days … I never shirked a duty to baseball.”   – Shoeless Joe Jackson

As the dogwoods start to bloom on North Main Street and the mild temps call you to Falls Park, the West End comes alive with the sounds of cheering crowds and the distinctive “CRACK” of baseball bats. When the Greenville Drive‘s 2012 season opens Thursday, April 5th, it will be the latest chapter in this city’s rich baseball history. For more than a century, Greenville has been involved in a deeply committed love affair with “America’s Game”.

Long before The Drive…or even the G-Braves…came to town, the surrounding mill towns and their baseball teams had already given us local heroes whose prowess at bat was the stuff of legends. Undoubtedly the greatest of these near-mythical figures  was Joe Jackson. Dubbed “Shoeless Joe” by fans, this humble man started his extraordinary baseball career right here in Greenville. The son of a sharecropper, Joe first went to work in textile mills as a child. As a young teen, he was recruited to join the mill’s baseball team as its youngest player. First positioned as a pitcher, Joe was quickly moved to left field, the position he would play for  the rest of his career, after his massive fastball actually broke another player’s arm. But it was at bat that Joe really made his mark. Swinging his beloved “Black Betsy”, Joe set  record after record – many of which still stand today. His remarkable talent soon caught the eye of major league scouts. After playing with several professional teams, Joe was signed by the Chicago White Sox in 1915.  Over the next four seasons, he became Chicago’s favorite sports hero, leading the league in batting statistics and winning the admiration of fans and fellow players alike. Babe Ruth even modeled his batting style after Joe’s and Ty Cobb said Joe was “the finest natural hitter in the history of the game”. Joe’s legend began to crumble  when he and seven of his teammates were accused of “throwing’ the 1919 World Series in what became known as the “Black Sox Scandal”. Despite the fact that Jackson had 12 hits (a Series record),  a .375 batting average (the best of both teams) committed no errors, and he and the other seven were acquitted of fraud charges, the “Chicago Eight” were banned from baseball for life by Commissioner Kennesaw Landis. He never played professional baseball again after the 1920 season. After residing in various towns throughout the South, Joe returned to Greenville in 1933 where he and his wife opened a liquor store. Jackson remained a beloved citizen of his hometown until his death in 1951. He is buried  next to his wife, Katie, in Greenville’s Woodlawn Memorial Park. Shoeless Joe continues to be a hero to baseball fans all over the world. He still hold franchise  records for both the Indians and the White Sox for both triples in a season and career batting average. He was a pivotal character in the films  “Eight Men Out” and “Field of Dreams”. In 1999, he was #35  on “The Sporting News'”  list of the 100 Greatest Baseball Players and was chosen by MLB fans as the 12th best outfielder of all time. Yet, despite vast amounts of evidence proclaiming his innocence and numerous pleas from fans, Greenville citizens,  professional ball players and even members of Congress, Shoeless Joe continues to be blacklisted from baseball, thus preventing his well-deserved inclusion in the National Baseball Hall of Fame.

The house where Joe spent his final years can be visited by fans today. In 2006, his modest home was dismantled and moved from its original site on Wilburn Avenue to its current location on Field Street, across from Fluor Field, to become the Shoeless Joe Jackson Museum and Baseball Library. The house number was changed to 356 to reflect Jackson’s lifetime batting average. The not-for-profit museum displays records, photographs, films and personal artifacts from Joe’s baseball career and historic life. An impressive collection of books pertaining to baseball and its place in American culture, were mostly donated by baseball enthusiasts and are now housed in the room which once held Joe’s trophies. The admission to this poignant museum is free (although donations are greatly appreciated). It  is open Saturdays from 10AM to 2PM.

More of Shoeless Joe’s legacy in Greenville is found Downtown. A life-size statue, depicting Joe in his White Sox uniform, swinging for the bleachers, can be seen outside the West End Market in Shoeless Joe Jackson Plaza. The statue was created in the lobby of City Hall in full view of visitors and locals alike. Artist Doug Young made this piece a true community project, allowing guests to participate in the creation of the work by kneading the clay used in the sculpture. The work was unveiled on July 13, 2002 in a ceremony attended by over 700 people. In West Greenville,  just off Shoeless Joe Memorial Highway, is the Shoeless Joe Memorial Park. Once part of the thriving Brandon Mill community (Jackson’s childhood home), this 8 acre park property features a lighted baseball field, dugouts, a playground and picnic shelters and is located near where Joe played baseball as a boy.

When the Greenville Drive takes the field this spring, fans will have the chance to take part in Greenville’s historic baseball legacy. Since their 2005 move to Greenville, this Class A affiliate of the Boston Red Sox has been embraced by baseball fans and non-fans alike. Their home stadium at Fluor Field shares dimensions with their parent club’s major league field at Fenway Park. It even boasts its own “Green Monster” – complete with a manual scoreboard just like the original, and “Pesky’s Pole” in right field. Fluor Field was named “Ballpark of the Year” in 2006 by Baseballparks.com – beating out such legendary stadiums as St. Louis’ Busch Stadium.  Although many fans lobbied to have the team name changed to “The Greenville Joes” in honor of our city’s favorite son, the name “Greenville Drive” reflects Greenville’s automotive history and ties to the industry through BMW and Michelin.

Fans of The Drive will have the opportunity to meet the players and coaches before the game Thursday. The team will be gathering at noon for a special luncheon at The Carolina Ale House, before heading to the stadium to prepare for their season opener against the Lakewood BlueClaws. Fans are encouraged to stop by,  meet the team and watch the Boston Red Sox season opener against the Detroit Tigers on the Ale House’s big screen TV’s. The Red Sox game starts at 1PM.  The Drive game begins at 7PM. Tickets are available online and at the gate for $5 – $8 in advance and $6 – $9 the day of the game.

So join us Downtown to cheer on the home team and while you’re there, take in some of Greenville’s incredible baseball history. What could be more All-American? GO DRIVE!

For more info…

Greenville Drive: Greenville’s Class A minor league team opens their season on April 5th, with home games at Fluor Field also taking place the 6th and 7th and an afternoon game on Sunday the 8th. For a full schedule, statistics and a team roster, visit http://www.milb.com/index.jsp?sid=t428

Shoeless Joe Jackson: To learn more about the amazing life and career of  Greenville’s favorite baseball legend, visit http://www.shoelessjoejackson.com/

Shoeless Joe Jackson Museum and Baseball Library: This wonderful museum, in Jackson’s former home, is open Saturdays, 10AM – 2PM. Admission is free, but donations are greatly appreciated.  It is located on Field Street, across from Fluor Field. For more information, visit: http://www.shoelessjoejackson.org

Shoeless Joe’s Gravesite: Joe and his wife, Katie, are buried at Woodlawn Memorial Park, located at the corner of Wade Hampton Boulevard and Pleasantburg Drive in Greenville. To locate the grave, turn at the first right after entering the cemetery, then bear left at the “Y”. Stop approximately 30 feet short of  the next intersection and look along the left curb for the Landers plot. Joe’s grave is marked with a flat marker 9 rows behind Landers. If you cannot find it, ask employees in the Administrative Office and they will show you.

Shoeless Joe Jackson Statue: This life-size statue of Joe is located in Shoeless Joe Jackson Plaza beside the West End Market. For more information, visit http://www.greenvillesc.gov/Culture/ArtinPublicPlaces/Shoeless.htm

Shoeless Joe Memorial Park:  Located in West Greenville’s historic Brandon Mill Community, this recreation park features a lighted baseball park and dugouts. For more information, visit: http://greenvillerec.com/parks/4/shoeless-joe/

West End Baseball Academy: Want to swing for the bleachers yourself? Visit West End Baseball Academy located on Dunbar Street, behind Greenville High. With batting cages, indoor and outdoor baseball facilities, and team and individual instruction, it’s the best place Downtown to do a little pitching, catching and hitting. For more info, visit http://www.westendbaseballacademy.com/west-end-news.php

 



et cetera