Taking up the cause of infamous baseball legend Shoeless Joe Jackson, presidential hopefuls Bill Bradley and John Kasich came to the town where "Field of Dreams" was filmed, declaring Saturday that baseball's hierarchy may have barred an innocent star from the Hall of Fame.
During a weekend of baseball and celebrity softball, Democrat Bradley urged Major League Baseball Commissioner Bud Selig to take a look at Jackson's case. "It should be re-evaluated," he said.
"I think the guy got ripped off," said Kasich, R-Ohio. "He was done wrong."
Banned from baseball after being accused of throwing the 1919 World Series while playing for the Chicago White Sox, Jackson was later acquitted of criminal charges. The movie "Field of Dreams" popularized his plight, with actor Kevin Costner pointing to Jackson's stellar performance in the 1919 Series as proof that one of the game's greatest hitters never took a dive for gamblers' money.
"This must be heaven, this is Iowa," declared Bradley, stealing a line from the film in which the long-dead Jackson and other baseball greats play on a field that Costner has built for them by clearing his cornfields.
Hall of Fame pitcher Bob Feller autographed baseballs, and lobbied for Jackson's admission to the Hall of Fame.
"He's the third greatest hitter in history" and "he deserves to be in there," said Feller, a Republican who invited Kasich to the event.
Sen. Tom Harkin, D-Iowa, who helped launch a celebrity baseball game, has written Selig asking for Jackson's case to be reopened and has introduced a resolution in Congress.
Kasich chuckled that Jackson's banishment from the game "probably was some kind of independent counsel, a Ken Starr type of thing. He was made an example."
Dyersville was turned into something of a memorial for Jackson, with parades and traveling baseball exhibits, along with displays of Shoeless Joe memorabilia. Kasich bought four shirts.
Bradley, a National Basketball Association Hall of Famer, deadpanned that "I agreed to play only one inning" in a celebrity game. "To do otherwise would be to put the other team at a serious disadvantage. I have blinding speed on the basepaths."
In the state where precinct caucuses launch the presidential nominating season, Bradley took time out from a rain-drenched parade in Independence to declare his allegiance to ethanol, important in corn-rich Iowa. Kasich urged big new tax cuts based on new projections of a growing surplus.