One of the most interesting players in baseball history, Charley Jones was the baseball alias of one Benjamin Rippay. Jones, who played under a false name, is a mysterious character. He was one of the game’s first great heavy hitters, was a noted ladies man (even when he was married) but the most interesting tidbit on Jones/Rippay is that there isn’t any information regarding his death. No one knows where or when Jones met his demise.
Jones made his Major League debut with the Keokuk Westerns in the old National Association in 1875. When the team disbanded, he caught on for a brief trial with the Hartford Dark Blues. The next season he joined the lowly Cincinnati Reds who finished with a 9-56 record as Charley was the lone bright spot–he led the team in every offensive category. A losing team again in 1877, Charley hit .313 during the short season with ten triples in just 57 games.
The Reds climbed to second place in 1878 with Charley finishing second in both the triples and homerun departments. But he didn’t establish himself as a true ranking star until the following season when he left Cincy for the Boston Red Caps. In his first season with Boston, Charley led the league in runs scored, RBI, homeruns and walks. Had there been an MVP Award handed out that season, Jones might have won it as Boston finished in second place. The next year had its turmoil. Jones ran afoul of team management for demanding his salary be paid on time which resulted in a blacklisting from the National League.
After the blacklisting, Charley went into business for himself–opening a laundromat–while also spending his spare time playing in outlawed leagues. Signed by the American Association in 1882, Charley was kept from playing because the AA honored the National League’s blacklist. But when the two leagues warred with one another the following season, the AA allowed Charley to return to the diamond, caring not for the National League’s banishment.
Jones joined the Cincinnati Red Stockings of the American Association in 1883 and showed little rust despite a two-year layoff from top competition. He jumped right back into competitive action and led the AA in RBI. The slugger finished second in homeruns as Pop Snyder’s Red Stockings finished third in the league. In 1884, Jones led the league in on-base percentage and games played with 112. He played in an equal amount of games the following season with 108 runs scored and a .322 batting average.
At the age of 36, Jones started to slow down, as did the Red Stockings, who fell to fifth place. Charley led the team with 61 walks but during the 1887 season he was sold to the New York Metropolitans for $1,000. After the season Jones was released by New York and he signed a deal with the Kansas City Cowboys where he ended his career.
G 894/R 733/H 1,114/2B 172/3B 102/HR 56/RBI 552/BA .298/SA .444/OBP .345