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Today in White Sox History: February 21

An all-time great hitter leaves the South Side, in search of lumber

Jones, A Sox Player, Warms Up
Fielder Jones, arguably the best manager and definitively the best center fielder in White Sox history, left the team for good on this day, 114 years ago.
Chicago Sun-Times/Chicago Daily News collection/Chicago History Museum/Getty Images


Fielder Jones formally tends his resignation as manager, also retiring as a player at age 36. Jones’ decision, late in the offseason, came only after heated entreaties from owner Charles Comiskey, who even dispatched Chicago Tribune writer Harvey Woodruff to Portland in order to convince Jones to return.

Jones, who was intent on joining his brother Willard and teammate Billy Sullivan in the lumber business, did actually consider a comeback ... if Comiskey would let Jones buy into the White Sox franchise. Comiskey countered by giving Jones a blank check for his player-manager salary — but not co-ownership.

Jones was the fourth manager in White Sox history, and the first to win a World Series, in 1906. He never had a losing record in any of his five seasons as skipper; at .592 (426-293), Jones has the best winning percentage of any White Sox manager, by 20 1⁄2 games.

Ironically, Sullivan was Comiskey’s eventual choice (he held out until two days before the start of the regular season, hoping Jones would reconsider) as player-manager.

Jones’ retirement was also a devastating loss on the player side; he had just come off of a career second-best 4.7 WAR in 1908. Jones’ 32.0 WAR with the White Sox makes him the 10th-best hitter and best center fielder in team history.