Player Profiles - Bumpus Jones
Charles Leander “Bumpus” Jones was born on January 1, 1870 in Cedarville, Ohio. He is credited with throwing the first no-hitter in Cincinnati Reds history on October 15, 1892.
Bumpus’s origins are a little unclear. His birth certificate lists his birth year as 1870, yet he is listed as being 8 years old on an 1880 census. He appears to have been born out of wedlock as there is no father’s name listed on record. In terms of ethnicity, his birth certificate lists him as “mulatto” but his death certificate lists him as “white.”
Regardless of this confusion, there is nothing unclear about his early talent with throwing the ball. In 1889, he began making regular trips to Cincinnati by train to play for semi-pro teams. Some accounts have it that he would be paid an average of 6-8 dollars per game. To put this into perspective, in 1890 the average weekly wage (60 hours) for a laborer was $9. The Xenia Gazette covered a game between Xenia and Cedarville in September when Jones tossed a no-hitter for Cedarville.
In October 1892, the Cincinnati Red Stockings came to Cedarville to play the local team in an exhibition game. Jones came in during the seventh came in to pitch, with the Reds leading 9-0. Jones shut them down without a hit. The Wilmington Democrat stated that Jones was invited by Charles Comiskey to come to Cincinnati and pitch on Saturday October 15, the final day of the regular season. This would also be the last time the pitcher's mound was at fifty feet. Following this game, the mound would be moved back to 60’6”. For this game, Bumpus faced a powerful, veteran Pirates team that featured Connie Mack. A nervous Jones walked the first two batters, but then coaxed a grounder that was turned into a double play. In the second inning, Jones walked another batter, but he was again saved by another double play. He was not so lucky in the third inning when another walk led to a scored a run as Jones threw a bunt attempt into right field. According to the Commercial Gazette’s “that ended the run-getting of the visitors and not one of the Pittsburg’s reached first base in the six closing innings." The Reds scored 2 in the fifth and went on to a 7-1 victory. Bumpus had thrown the first no-hitter in Cincinnati’s history. It was his first career game, the final game of the season, and currently it’s still the latest calendar date for a no-hitter.
According to Bill James, Jones edges out Bobo Holloman of the St. Louis Browns, for the distinction of being the mathematically least likely pitcher ever to have thrown a no-hitter in the major leagues.
Jones split 1893 between Cincinnati and the New York Giants. Following 1893, Bumpus would find employment in the Western League for the remainder of the decade pitching for Sioux City and Grand Rapids. Bumpus was the ace for Grand Rapids, compiling an 11-20 record for a team that won only 38 games. He also became a fan favorite for his bizarre antics on the field. The Indianapolis paper reports that in one game he went into a "delirium" at the plate and shook and wobbled to unhinge the opposing pitcher. The ploy worked as Jones was walked.
Jones died on June 25, 1938 in Xenia, Ohio.