White Sox: The Mount Rushmore of center fielders

Phil Watson
Chet Lemon of the Chicago White Sox. (Photo by Ron Vesely/MLB Photos via Getty Images)
Chet Lemon of the Chicago White Sox. (Photo by Ron Vesely/MLB Photos via Getty Images) /
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Before they were at Comiskey Park, the Chicago White Sox played at South Side Park from 1901-10. (Photo by Mark Rucker/Transcendental Graphics, Getty Images) /

Mount Rushmore of White Sox center fielders: Fielder Jones

Fielder Jones was a stand out for the Chicago White Sox in their earliest days, jumping from the National League’s Brooklyn Superbas (later the Dodgers) to the White Sox for their inaugural season in 1901. According to legend, Clark Griffith — pitcher and part owner of the new team — walked three miles through the snow in upstate New York to reach Jones’ home.

Jones hit .311 as the White Sox won the first American League pennant and topped the .300 mark again in 1902. In 1904, Jones became player-manager for Chicago, taking over from Jimmy Callahan in early June and guiding the White Sox to a 66-47 finish. They were 89-65 overall and placed third.

Chicago finished two games in back of the Philadelphia Athletics in 1905, with Jones managing and manning center field, but won the pennant in 1906. Nicknamed the “Hitless Wonders,” the White Sox were last in the American League with a .230 average and hit only seven homers, but won the pennant by three games over the New York Highlanders (later the Yankees).

They went on to beat the Chicago Cubs in six games in the World Series, though Jones hit just .143 in the series.

Comiskey did little to improve the club and Jones, who dragged under-talented teams to third-place finishes in 1907 and 1908, quit after that season. Comiskey tried for years to bring Jones back and didn’t release his rights as a player until 1913, when Jones was 42.

Jones later managed in the short-lived Federal League with the St. Louis Terriers and also managed the St. Louis Browns in 1916-18, though he quit after the Browns blew a five-run lead in the ninth inning of a game on June 12, 1918.

As a player for the White Sox, Jones was a terrific baserunner and center fielder. He also hit .269 with a .683 OPS in 1,153 games and 5,107 plate appearances over eight seasons. Jones had 375 RBI, scored 693 runs and stole 206 bases. Jones led the American League with 36 sacrifice hits in 1904.

In retirement from baseball, Jones settled with his family in Portland, Oregon, and died from heart disease in March 1934 at age 62.

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