by Mike Magers
“General” Joe Jackson was a basketball standout at Cimmaron, New Mexico in Colfax County. He played college ball from 1936-1939 and was a member of some of the finest basketball teams to pass through New Mexico A&M, now known as New Mexico State University. Joe stood 6’6″ tall which was quite unusual for the day. He was joined by 5’8″ guard Morris “Pucker” Wood and Pecos Finley from Floyd, who were fresh from their state championship team in 1935. They were part of what would become a high water mark for New Mexico State athletics. Between 1934 and 1938, the football squad earned a record of 31-10-6 and between 1935 to 1940, the basketball team went 102 and 36.
The Aggies were the dominant basketball team in the state during this period in the Border Conference. They eventually would own a 17 game winning streak over UNM by 1940. There’s an account of a game between the two teams in Albuquerque in March, 1938. The Lobos were trailing by 25 and to try to rattle the Aggies, UNM students presented nippled milk bottles to the Aggies during a huddle on the sidelines. Undaunted, Jackson and Finley accepted the bottles and drank them down before returning to the court to win the game.
The Aggies were undefeated in the Border Conference in 1937-1938, going on to win two games in the National Association of Intercollegiate Basketball Tournament in Kansas City. The following year they went 19-3 and 16-2 in the conference to notch their 3rd consecutive title and were invited to the National Invitational Tournament in New York City. The first game of the tournament, they drew Long Island University, previously undefeated. The Aggies held their own up to the half as the score was tied 29-29. Pecos and Joe both fouled out with 5 minutes left, the score tied 42-42, and the Aggies would go down 45-52 to a stout LIU team that would go on to win the tournament.
Following the completion of his college career, Joe worked briefly as a patrolman for the New Mexico State Police before enlisting in the U S Army for World War II. Jackson reached the rank of 1st Lieutenant in the 271st Infantry before being discharged. Following his discharge, Jackson had a number of different jobs including working in construction where he would lose a leg as a result of a complication from an accident. He also rejoined the New Mexico State Police as a dispatcher where he would work a total of 20 years. During this period, he picked up the nickname “Shoeless Joe” as a reference to the baseball player of the same name. Following his retirement from the force, he worked another two years for the State Highway department until his death in 1969. He is interred at the National Cemetery in Santa Fe and his marker is a simple military stone. .
Jackson was honored in 1973 along with teammate Pecos Finley by being named to the All-Time Basketball Team at New Mexico State University.
To learn more, please see Walter Hines’ fine article at http://bleedcrimson.net/aggiesports_theearlyyears#ixzz3V9ZZ0Po3