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Nate Jones ready to depart White Sox' infinite ERA club

In 2014, reliever was one of three pitchers in franchise history to allow an earned run without retiring a batter

Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images

The last time we saw Nate Jones on the mound for the White Sox, he walked both batters he faced during the seventh inning of a 10-9 loss to the Twins on April 3, 2014. It was his second appearance in as many days, and arguably the more successful of the two, as he gave up two hits and a walk without retiring a hitter in his debut.

Jones' line on the season: four runs on three hits and two walks over zero innings, giving him an ERA of.

Sixteen months, one back surgery and one Tommy John surgery later, Jones is back with reworked mechanics and  champing at the bit for redemption:

"I’m pretty excited about it," Jones said. "It’s going to be hard to contain it out there whenever I do get to pitch, but I think after that first pitch we can finally put a closing on the whole rehab process so I’m looking forward to that."

But if I were Jones, I'd feel more comfortable closing the book on the rehab process after recording the first out, just to lock in a denominator that makes it possible to average something. By having an infinite ERA last year, he became one of three White Sox pitchers in franchise history to allow an earned run without retiring a batter over the course of an entire season.

The good news? At least Jones had plenty of major league success before his career hit roadblocks, and that puts him lights years ahead of the other two. He just won't want to emulate them any further.

Joe Brown, 1927

Brown got his chance as a 26-year-old rookie who made his name averaging nearly 200 innings over three seasons for Oklahoma City in the Western League. The Sox brought him into spring training in Shreveport, La., before the 1927 season with significant interest in his abilities, but a knee injury posed some problems, according to a brutally honest story from the Chicago Tribune on March 31:

The only present staff hurler who is not expected to be eligible for a start against Cleveland or the Browns is Joe Brown, the Oklahoma City Iron Man, who for a time was being groomed as a sort of masked marvel to be sprung on the American league as a surprise phenom. But Joe's right knee went bad two weeks ago and he was left behind when the team made its Texas tour.

When Manager Schalk arrived back in Shreveport he found Joe's hotel idleness had caused him to fatten up at an astounding rate. Today Cracker ordered the young man to return to his home in Little Rock in the hope that household chores and other fireside activities will keep his weight down until such time as the knee gets well.

He finally surfaced with the Sox for a start on May 17. I can't find the circumstances behind his debut. Red Faber didn't pitch for 12 days after holding the Murderers Row Yankees to one run over 10 innings on May 9. The other regular members of the rotation -- Ted Lyons, Tommy Thomas and Ted Blankenship -- were pitching on a regular basis, so a spot start for Faber, who also missed some time in April, is my guess.

In any event, it did not go well. From the Tribune game recap the next day:

Joe Brown, of more or less minor league fame as an iron man, was appointed by Manager Ray Schalk to make his premiere as a major leaguer. Joe has a vast assortment of stuff, but he left it in his locker yesterday, and the husky Arkansas lad has yet to account for a putout in the big circuit.

The first man to face Joseph made a two base hit, the second one walked, and the third one also doubled. After which the young pitcher went to the clubhouse library and scratched off a tear-stained letter to the folks back in Little Rock.

And that was it for his entire career. Brown returned to Shreveport of the Texas League, where he pitched for his final three years of his professional career. If Paper of Record ever gets back online -- or if I can get to Cooperstown soon -- I'll probably see if I can find out any more about the circumstances.

Frank Dupee, 1901

With Dupee, somebody already did the research for me. He has a SABR bio because its author, Tom Simon, wrote a book about Vermonters in the major leagues.

Dupee's origin story is interesting -- the son of immigrant sharecroppers from Quebec, he somehow landed at a prestigious seminary in Maine, likely due to his athletic ability. He pitched his way to the majors through Portland (Maine) of the New England League, and the White Sox purchased his contract in August of 1901 as their inaugural season approached its final month. The circumstances behind Dupee's start, according to Simon:

What turned out to be Dupee's 15 minutes of fame came one week later on Saturday, August 24, 1901, at Baltimore's Oriole Park. It was the inaugural season of the American League, and the first-place White Stockings, clinging to a half-game lead over the Boston Americans, were in desperate need of pitching help. Player-manager Clark Griffith, the ace of the staff, had a broken finger, and the usually dependable Nixey Callahan was suffering from stomach trouble. To make matters worse, John Katoll was serving a suspension after throwing a baseball at umpire Jack Haskell three days earlier. That left Griffith with one reliable hurler, rookie Roy Patterson, who had pitched the day before. Under those circumstances, Griff felt he had no choice but to start his new acquisition against John McGraw's feisty Orioles.

It did not go well. Like Brown, Dupee only faced three batters, but Dupee showed more outward hopelessness by walking all three of them. From the Tribune:

Then Dupee went in and must have had an attack of stage fright, or something, for he could not throw the ball anywhere near the plate. The first three men were allowed to walk. This was too much for Manager Griffith, who called Callahan from the clubhouse to relieve him.

Thanks to Simon's research, we know far more about what happened to Dupee. The Sox optioned him back to Portland when Griffith signed veteran lefty Wiley Piatt for rotation support, and while Dupee didn't get another shot in Chicago, the Sox did unblock him by selling him to the New York Giants during the offseason. With the National League club, Dupee appeared to have inside track for roster consideration to open the 1902 season, but an arm injury right before Opening Day fell him, and he never got another chance despite pitching 13 more seasons in the minors.

The epilogue of Dupee's story is even sadder:

Dupee's frustrations continued after his retirement from baseball. He and his wife, the former Florence Etta Morgan, lived for over 50 years in West Falmouth, Maine, on a farm they inherited from Florence's parents (currently the site of Falmouth High School). Frank struggled to make a living raising vegetables, supplementing his income by serving occasionally as a hunting and fishing guide and by selling the pelts of muskrats, foxes, skunks and raccoons he trapped in nearby swamps. It was not a happy life. His son Frederick, 88 years old at the time he was interviewed in 1996, stated that his father cheated on his mother and physically abused his children.

Frank Dupee died at the age of 79 on August 14, 1956. His obituary quoted John McGraw as telling sports writers that Dupee was the only pitcher he ever saw who had as much speed as the famed Walter Johnson. But instead of glory, his legacy amounts to this: by yielding three earned runs without recording a single out, Dupee is one of only 18 pitchers in all major league history with a lifetime ERA of infinity. Of those 18, only two gave up more earned runs than Dupee's three. And that makes the once-promising lad from Monkton officially the third-worst pitcher in the history of major league baseball.