A Deadball Era star, Fielder Jones was widely regarded as a strategic genius. He was player/manager of the “Hitless Wonders,” the White Sox team that won the World Series in 1906, utilizing sound defense and fundamentals to beat a much more impressive Cubs team in the Fall Classic. Jones the player played the game like he managed: he excelled on the field, posted fine on-base percentages and took the extra base whenever possible.
Fielder Jones got his start with the Brooklyn Bridegrooms in 1896. As a rookie, he paced the team with a .357 batting average and a stellar .427 on-base percentage. The regular right fielder in 1897, Jones teamed with stars Mike Griffin and Honest John Anderson to give the Grooms an all .300 hitting pasture. Fielder scored 134 runs in 135 games and tallied 22 outfield assists. With a name like Fielder, and given his profession, it would seem logical that he came across the name on the diamond, but the fact of the matter is he was named after a Civil War hero family member.
Jones posted his third straight .300 hit campaign in 1898 by hitting .304 for Brooklyn that season. He led the club in runs scored and finished second on the squad, behind Griffin, in on-base percentage. Brooklyn shocked the National League by winning the pennant in 1899. They finished a distant tenth in ’98 but captured the NL flag with an amazing turnaround season. Fielder teamed with such luminaries as Wee Willie Keeler, Joe Kelley, Bad Bill Dahlen, Duke Farrell, Tom Daly and Hughie Jennings: all men with on-base percentages of .390 or higher. Jones would remember this season when he would become manager of the White Sox.
Brooklyn repeated as NL champs in 1900 under the tutelage of Ned Hanlon. Jones hit .310 and tied with Keeler for most runs scored on the roster. But back-to-back titles or not, the big money offered by the upstart American League lured Fielder away and he signed with the White Sox. In the AL’s first year fo existence, Jones finished second in the circuit in runs scored, walks and on-base percentage. Fielder hit a nifty .311 and posted his third season of 100 or more runs scored.
As skipper Clark Griffith’s everyday center fielder in 1902, Fielder paced junior circuit middle gardeners in hits and batting average. He had a nifty .390 on-base percentage and came two runs shy of another 100 runs scored campaign. The White Sox fell to seventh place in 1903 under skipper Nixey Callahan and in 1904, Jones replaced Nixey early in the season and guided the Pale Hose to a third place finish as player/manager. The double duty took its toll on Fielder’s numbers as his batting average dipped to a new low of .243 (the worst it had been prior to that was .285). Nevertheless, Fiedler led the league in sacrifices, leading his team by example: move runners over like I do!
Jones brought the White Sox in at second place in 1905 while he led American League center fielders in runs, triples and walks. But Fielder wielded his magic wand in 1906 when he piloted the “Hitless Wonders” to a World Series title over town rival Cubs. As a player, Jones finished second in the AL with 83 walks drawn. Although Fiedler didn’t have a single man in the lineup hit above .280, his Pale Hose were adept at scratching out runs and keeping opposing runs from crossing the plate. The White Sox played “Small-Ball” perfectly and had an exceptional pitching staff of Ed Walsh, Doc White, Nick Altrock, Frank Owen and Roy Patterson.
The White Sox fell to third in 1907 but Fielder topped American League center fielders in walks. Fielder had his last fine year as a player in 1908 when scored 92 runs, pilfered 26 bags and posted an on-base percentage of .366. As a manager, he was in fine shape as well. He brought his Sox in second place in the AL, just a game and a half behind the Tigers of Detroit.
But Fielder grew disenfranchised with White Sox owner Charlie Comiskey and announced his retirement after the ’08 season. He returned to Oregon, where he played minor league ball, and went into business there until he was called back to the show to manage the Federal League’s St. Louis Terriers. He replaced Three-Finger Brown late in the season and piloted the last place Terriers for a little over a month. The following year the Terriers shot up the standings to second place but then the Federal League folded.
The Terriers owner bought the American League St. Louis Browns and asked Jones to manage the Brownies. The Browns finished above .500 in 1916 but with a roster that had the likes of crooked Joey Gedeon (later banned from baseball for throwing games) the Browns fell to seventh in 1917 and Fielder was replaced early in the 1918 season. He never again made it back to the Major Leagues as manager.
G 1,787/R 1,181/H 1,929/2B 200/3B 76/HR 22/RBI 633/BB 817/SB 359/BA .285/SA .348/OBP .368
W 683/L 582/PCT .540 One pennant and one World Title.