Location: New York, New York

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

The New York Times Admits a Mistake, Sort Of

Reading the New York Times on line has advantages. It allows you to look at ads for different historic pictures from their archive on almost every page. On October 16 I was reading an article and noticed a picture of Shoeless Joe Jackson. Intrigued, I clicked on it to get the particulars. Here is the copy that accompanied the picture:

"Shoeless" Joe Jackson - circa 1919 NSAP392

Jackson was one of the game's great natural hitters and a fielder whose glove was called "the place where triples go to die." But his stellar career was tainted by his involvement with the infamous Black Sox Scandal in the 1919 World Series.

I was shocked to see the phrase "the place where triples go to die." It was wrong to apply it to the glove of Shoeless Joe Jackson. I sent the Times this letter asking them to correct it:

To the Editor,
The copy accompanying the picture of Shoeless Joe Jackson says his glove "was where triples go to die." That phrase might have been loosely attributed to many ballplayers, including Shoeless Joe, in recent years, but was first, and most famously, used to describe the glove of Tris Speaker. Although Mr. Speaker is not as well remembered as Mr. Jackson, it being tough to compete with the nickname "Shoeless" (not to mention Mr. Jackson's infamy for being involved in the worst scandal to hit Major League Baseball until Steroids appeared). That does not excuse the Times from sloppily applying to Mr. Jackson the well earned motto of Tris Speaker, who was elected to the Baseball Hall of Fame in 1937. At that time he was considered the best center fielder who had ever lived. By then Mr. Jackson was remembered as a great hitter, a tragic figure, and a capable left fielder.
Dennis Nyback

I then patiently waited for the Times to take action. On November sixth I decided I had waited long enough and decided to contact them again. I sent them this:

Dear Times,
A couple of weeks ago I wrote to alert you to a mistake in your paper. I assumed it would be corrected. So far, I've been wrong. My being wrong is of little consequence. The Times being wrong, and continuing to be wrong, is another thing. The mistake is in the copy accompanying the picture of Shoeless Joe Jackson that you sell.
Joe Jackson was a great hitter and an good left fielder. The phrase "Where triples go to die" has been attributed to more than one player. They include the fine center fielder Willie Mays. It is never properly applied to a left fielder. The phrase was coined to describe the glove of the Hall of Fame center fielder Tris Speaker. It happened during the 1912 World Series where Mr. Speaker's Red Sox defeated the New York Giants, largely due to Mr. Speaker's glove snagging multiple shots into the outfield that turned extra base hits into out.
Considering that the Red Sox are the current World Series Champions, and that Mr. Jackson is a disgraced member of the only team to be caught throwing the Series, you should change your copy and discontinue spreading this mis-information. Heck, you should do it just because it's right.
Best Wishes
Dennis Nyback

Having not gotten action sending a letter to the Editor, I sent this one to the Publisher, Public Editor, OpEd Editor, and to all the other addresses I found of management people who I thought might be able correct the copy.

On November thirteen I found that the Times had changed the copy. It now reads:

"Shoeless" Joe Jackson - Circa 1919 NSAP392

Jackson, left fielder for the Chicago White Sox, was one of baseball's great natural hitters, but his stellar career was tainted by his involvement with the infamous Black Sox Scandal in the 1919 World Series.

This correction was not reported in the paper. It doesn't really matter. What I am hoping for is soon a picture of Tris Speaker will be offered for sale by the Times and will state that his glove was "The place where triples go to die."


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