“Shoeless” Joe Jackson was a baseball player from the early 1900s who was implicated in the “Black Sox” scandal of the 1919 World Series.
Here’s how Wikipedia says he got his nickname.
According to Jackson, he got his nickname during a mill game played in Anderson, South Carolina. Jackson suffered from blisters on his foot from a new pair of cleats, and they hurt so much that he had to take his shoes off before an at bat. As play continued, a heckling fan noticed Jackson running to third base in his socks, and shouted “You shoeless son of a gun, you!”, and the resulting nickname “Shoeless Joe” stuck with him throughout the remainder of his life.
Nonetheless, here’s an anecdote that appeared in a bunch of newspapers in the summer of 1920 (he was still playing that year, not being banned from baseball until 1921).
“BAREFOOT JOE” VERY CAREFUL OF THE BALL
While Joe Jackson was playing with a team down South Carolina way many years ago, he didn’t wear $10 baseball shoes.
For financial reasons Joe wore nothing on his feet. He roamed all over the briars, stubble and other litter in the outfield, which included numerous broken bottles, without it bothering him.
At the end of the fifth inning of a certain game Jackson came in to the bench and expostulated with the manager.
“You’d better get that glass out of center field,” he said, “it’s cutting the ball all to pieces.”
Actually, that sounds like the sort of anecdote that would go into myth-making. It’s about something in the unverifiable past. Yet, its cuteness and cleverness is just the sort of thing that would get the story picked up and told.
And of course, the leather on the bottom of a barefooter and the leather on the bottom of a baseball would be equally safe from the glass.