TDIRH: The best Red you've never heard of

Charley Jones - capanson.com

Please don't take the title too literally.

On this day in 1852, former Red leftfielder Charley Jones was born in Alamance County, NC. Charley Jones is my pick for the best Reds player who is essentially unrecognized or unknown by most Cincinnati fans. Neither the Reds Hall of Fame nor this site's list of top 100 Reds includes "Baby", as Jones was called. He first played in Cincinnati with the short lived Reds "franchise" (if one were to be generous) of 1876-1880. Jones was the only good player on the 1876 team, which went 9-56 (not a typo). In 1877, the team added Lip Pike, another good outfielder, but the squad still only won 15 games. Again, Jones was the best player on the team, posting a robust .471 slugging percentage, which was good for second in the league behind newly elected Hall of Famer Deacon White (.545).

Cincinnati acquired White and the legendary King Kelly for the 1878 season, and the Reds broke through with a 37-23 record. Jones again led the team in OPS+ with 158 and accumulated 2.7 bWAR, a damned good total given the fact the team as a whole played only 60 games. He had a career year with Boston in 1879, leading the league in runs, home runs, RBI, and walks. Unfortunately, in the midst of his prime at age 28, the National League blacklisted him in 1880 over a dispute with Boston's owners. According to the New Bill James Historical Baseball Abstract, teams at that time only paid players during home stands as clubs did not want to carry excessive amounts of cash on the road. Teams would give players small advances for expenses and then settle up upon returning home. Jones, however, drank heavily and was something of a clothes horse, earning the nickname, "The Knight of the Limitless Linen". You can probably see where this is going, but Jones spent all of his cash while on the road and demanded his full pay. Boston probably didn't even have the money to pay him at the time, but Jones raised ten kinds of hell and requested his release. The papers got involved, and Jones eventually had to take the Boston Red Stockings to court to receive his wages. He was now blacklisted from baseball, but Jones bought a laundry in Cincinnati using the money from his suit against Boston (p. 696).

Jones sat out the 1881 season, but signed with the Cincinnati Red Stockings of the new American Association in 1882. However, the American Association avoided players on the National League's blacklist, so Jones again missed the season. Jones, of course, sued for his salary, but was unsuccessful this time. In 1883, the American Association allowed teams to sign the blackballed players and Jones played with Cincinnati from 1883 to 1887 (James, p. 696-97). He picked up right where he had left off, leading the league in RBI in 1883 and on-base percentage in 1884. Jones retired from baseball after the 1888 season. He was a prodigious power hitter throughout his career. At one time, Jones held both the career and single-season records for home runs. One certainly wonders what he would have done in 1881 and '82, his age 29 and 30 seasons, if it weren't for the blacklist.

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On this day in 1955, the Redlegs traded rightfielder Glen Gorbous, outfielder Jim Greengrass, and catcher Andy Seminick to the Phillies for leftfielder Stan Palys, righty Steve Ridzik, and Reds Hall of Fame catcher Smoky Burgess. This was a very good trade for Cincinnati as Burgess was a productive backstop for the Redlegs for nearly four seasons. Unfortunately, the Redlegs reversed their own fortune by dealing Burgess and others to the Pirates in 1959 for a pretty weak package of players.

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On this day in 1969, Reds Hall of Famer Jim Maloney threw a no-hitter against the Astros at Crosley Field. Maloney struck out 13 and walked five to amass a game score of 95. The Reds drew four walks and pounded out nine hits to win, 10-0. Pete Rose scored two runs, and Maloney added a double to help his own cause. Maloney had previously thrown a no-hitter in 1965.

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On this day in 1988, Pete Rose pushed umpire Dave Pallone during an argument over a call at first base. Baseball fined Rose $10,000 and suspended him for 30 days. The Reds lost to the Mets, 6-5.

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On this day in 1995, former Red Joe Randa made his major league debut with the Royals.

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On this day in 1998, former Red Paul Bako made his major league debut with the Tigers.

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