Players

Davy Jones (Rockford, 1901): At the start of the Three Eye’s first season, Jones was finishing law school at Dixon College in northern Illinois. At Dixon, he received an athletic scholarship and excelled in track and baseball. In 1901, Jones’ senior year, the Dixon ball club faced the Three-I Rockford Red Sox in an exhibition game. “I had a great day both at bat and in the field, and they offered me a contract: $85 a month,” recalled Jones in Lawrence S. Ritter’s The Glory of Their Times (William Morrow, 1984). “Well, I was a very poor boy, and the prospect of $85 a month right away, compared to years as a law clerk before I could start my own practice, made it hard to turn down. So I signed up and joined the Rockford Club right after graduation.”

In six weeks of Three-I ball, Jones batted .384 for a club that included pitcher Claude Elliott (see above). Near the end of the season, Rockford sold Jones to the Chicago Orphans of the National League, but the fleet-footed outfielder “jumped” to Milwaukee of the fledging American League. He appeared in 14 games for the Brewers, hitting .173 in 52 at-bats. Milwaukee finished the season in last place, 35.5 games behind Clark Griffith’s first-place Chicago White Sox. The club folded, and many of its players were transferred to the St. Louis Browns. During the 1902 season, Chicago Orphans owner James A. Hart enticed the twenty-one year old to jump a second time in two years. Hart offered Jones $3,600 a year (the highest salary on the club) and a $500 signing bonus. “Well, what could I do?” Jones remembered. “I was playing for $2,400, and here was a 50 per cent raise plus $500 in cold cash stacked up right in front of me. And, after all, I wasn’t even twenty-two years old yet.”

After two more years in Chicago, Jones played seven seasons for the Tigers (1906-1912). In Detroit, he acted as a calming presence on a club featuring Ty Cobb and Sam Crawford, two of the game’s most volatile players. Jones’ final three big league seasons were spent with the Chicago White Sox and the Pittsburgh Rebels of the short-lived Federal League. In 1,089 games, he batted a respectable .270. Jones played in three consecutive World Series (1907, 1908, and 1909), hitting .265 in 49 at-bats. The Tigers lost all three series, the first two against the Cubs and the last against the Pirates.

In 1910, Jones and a brother opened a drugstore in downtown Detroit, and that venture was so successful that they expanded to five stores. After retiring from baseball in 1915, Jones spurned a legal career, and instead earned a degree in pharmacy from the University of Southern California. He returned to Michigan where he remained in the drugstore business for thirty-five years. Jones passed away in 1972.

“I was playing in the Big Leagues in 1901, when Mr. William McKinley was President, and baseball attracted all sorts of people in those days,” Jones recalled long after retirement. “Back at the turn of the century, you know, we didn’t have the mass communication and mass transportation that exist nowadays. We didn’t have as much schooling, either. As a result, people were more unique then, more unusual, more different from each other. Now people are all more or less alike, company men, security minded, conformity–that sort of stuff. In everything, not just baseball.”