Cincinnati Reds History: Remembering Bumpus Jones

Bumpus Jones pitched eight games in the Majors in 1892 and 1893, splitting his time with the Cincinnati Reds and the New York Giants. While he got hammered in seven of those outings, his first Major League appearance was truly memorable.

Every so often, a starting pitcher, in his first Major League game, will begin his career by firing a few no hit innings. We saw that this past year with Ross Stripling, who did not allow a hit in his 7.1 innings before being lifted once he threw 100 pitches. It was a notable occasion, an exciting beginning to Stripling’s career even though the Dodgers bullpen could not finish out the no hitter.

As Stripling continued to avoid giving up a hit, the name Bumpus Jones was brought up. Jones, who pitched for the Cincinnati Reds and New York Giants, made his mark on baseball history by firing  no hitter on October 15, 1892 in his first career appearance. It also marked the latest no hitter in the regular season in MLB history, as well as the last no hitter before the pitching rubber was moved back to its current distance.

In that game, Jones allowed four walks while striking out three batters, giving up an unearned run. Unfortunately, the rest of his career did not go as well, as he was pounded the following year. Jones only made seven more appearances, with six starts, giving up 42 hits and 33 walks, resulting in 37 earned runs in 32.2 innings. That remarkable debut ended up as a complete aberration.

He does have company in regards to throwing a no hitter in his first Major League start. Both Bobo Holloman and Ted Breitenstein did so as well, but they had been used in a relief role previously. As such, Jones is the only player who officially threw a no hitter in his debut.

Jones was born on this day in 1870, and began pitching professionally in 1891. He had a solid 19-15 record with an excellent 1.27 ERA, but he also allowed 129 unearned runs to skew his numbers. Jones followed up that performance with a stellar 24-3 record in Joliet, posting a 0.93 ERA. His command issues appeared to be behind him, as he allowed only 96 walks in 242 innings, striking out 187 batters. That performance earned him the late season trial in Cincinnati, where he carved his name into the record books.

After his time in the Majors, Jones bounced around the minors. His command issues continued to be his undoing, as he just could not get the ball over the plate with any consistency. In 1900, his career came to an end, pitching three games for Cleveland in the American League, one year before it became a part of the Majors.

Bumpus Jones would have been an anonymous pitcher from the early days of Major League Baseball had it not been for his only outing in 1892. There, he made history with the Cincinnati Reds, throwing one of the most unlikely no hitters in MLB history.

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