Thursday, July 16, 2015

The Deep South was well represented in this year's MLB All-Star Game

Shoeless Joe Jackson
Last week in this space, I talked about how the starters had been announced for this year’s Major League Baseball All Star Game, and mentioned how only one of those starters had strong ties to Alabama.

That player, as many of you will know, is Toronto Blue Jays third baseman Josh Donaldson, who was born in Pensacola, Fla. and went on to play his school ball at Faith Academy in Mobile before starring on the baseball diamond at Auburn University.

Since last week, the full All Star rosters were announced, and those rosters didn’t include any players with strong ties to Alabama. However, the South was well represented on both All Star teams. Florida has the most players on the team, and those players include Kansas City Royals pitcher Wade Davis, Baltimore Orioles pitcher Darren O’Day, Chicago White Sox pitcher Chris Sale, Baltimore third baseman Manny Machado, Detroit Tigers outfielder J.D. Martinez, Miami Marlins second baseman Dee Gordon, New York Mets pitcher Jacob deGrom, Los Angeles Dodgers pitcher Zack Greinke, Pittsburgh Pirates outfielder Andrew McCutchen and Chicago Cubs first baseman Anthony Rizzo.

Georgia, North Carolina and Tennessee have two native sons each in this year’s All Star Game. Kansas City outfielder Lorenzo Cain and San Francisco Giants catcher Buster Posey are both from Georgia. Tampa Bay Rays pitcher Chris Archer and San Francisco pitcher Madison Bumgarner are both from North Carolina. Oakland Athletics pitcher Sonny Gray and Detroit pitcher David Price are natives of Tennessee.

Pittsburgh pitcher A.J. Burnett is from North Little Rock, Ark., and Minnesota Twins second baseman Brian Dozier is from Fulton, Miss. New York Yankees outfielder Brett Gardner is from Holly Hill, S.C.

Last, but not least, there’s Philadelphia Phillies pitcher Jonathan Papelbon, who is somewhat of an oddity and can arguably be claimed by three southern states. Papelbon was born in Baton Rouge, La., but attended high school in Jacksonville, Fla. From there, he went on to Starkville, Miss., where he had a stellar career as a closer at Mississippi State University.

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Before I close this thing out this week, I want to mention that today – July 16 – marks the 128th anniversary of the birth of one of the greatest and most controversial baseball players of all time – Shoeless Joe Jackson.

Jackson, whose real name was Joseph Jefferson Jackson, was born on July 16, 1887 in Pickens County, South Carolina. He went on to play for the Philadelphia Athletics, the Cleveland Indians and the Chicago White Sox.

Jackson played in the outfielder for most of his 12-year professional career, which began in 1911 when he finished his rookie season with a .408 batting average. He was a member of the White Sox team that won the World Series in 1917, and he still owns the third-highest career batting average (.356) in MLB history.

Sadly, Jackson is best remembered for his alleged involvement in the infamous Black Sox Scandal in which White Sox players were accused of throwing the 1919 World Series. For that reason, Jackson is not in the National Baseball Hall of Fame.

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