OAC's "Hitless Wonder"

When Dennis Erickson arrived at OSU as head football coach in 1999, he brought with him some of the best credentials of any coach to ever wear the Orange and Black.

But not as good as Fielder Allison Jones.

In 1910, Jones arrived in Corvallis to coach baseball at what was then Oregon Agricultural College.

His reputation had preceded him. Baseball diehards knew him to be the same Fielder Jones who had both managed and played center field for the 1906 World Champion Chicago White Sox. Baseball historians often refer to '06 Sox as the "Hitless Wonders," because of their ability to win games in spite of a combined team batting average of .191.

The 1910 baseball team's group photo. Coached by Fielder Jones the Beavers won OAC's first Northwest Championship banner.
A native of Pennsylvania, Jones had started his baseball career in the Pacific Northwest in 1891 as an outfielder with the Oregon State League (no connection to OSU).

Seven years in the majors followed. In 1904, the tough, young star was offered the job of player/manager for the White Sox, leading them to a respectable third-place finish in the standings.

In 1905, the Sox were second. In 1906, champions! The victory came at the expense of cross-town rivals, the Chicago Cubs, a team that had won an astonishing 116 games that year (tied with Seattle for the major league record) and had finished 22 games in first place!

Jones brought his winning ways to Corvallis and the payoff was immediate. Though he coached the Beavers only one year, the 1910 season, his OAC nine finished with its best record up to that time. They also earned the school's first-ever Northwest Championship banner.

In 1914, Fielder Jones was back managing in the big leagues with the St. Louis Federals. When the team joined the American League a year later, the Federals became the Browns and Jones stayed on as skipper. But the best they could do was a second-place finish in 1915.

In 1918, after watching his players blow a 5-1 lead to the Washington Senators in the ninth, Jones quit baseball for good, making his 1910 championship the last one he would ever earn. He moved back to Portland and remained there the rest of his life. Jones passed away from a heart condition on March 14, 1934.

Among the more than 300 who attended his memorial service was Billy Sullivan, the starting catcher for the "Hitless Wonders".Sullivan, who lived his retired life on a 30-acre farm west of Newberg (Ore.), was especially sad to see his old coach pass away. For a time, the two were business partners in the filbert orchard surrounding the former catcher's house. Dying of a heart attack in 1964,Sullivan was thelast survivor of the 1906 White Sox, one of major league baseball's most unusual world champions.

-- By George Edmonston, Jr., History and Traditions Editor