Davy Jones: The Tiger Who Played in the Shadows of Cobb and Crawford

When the Tigers won their first three pennants in 1907, 1908, and 1909, the team was lead by future Hall of Famers Ty Cobb and Sam Crawford.

But also playing an integral part in Detroit’s success was fellow outfielder Davy Jones, a speedy lead off man who could really run down fly balls at Bennett Park. From 1906 through 1912 Davy Jones roamed the outfield with Cobb and Crawford and with the sluggers batting behind him, Davy was forever crossing home plate. In 1907 Jones finished second in the league (behind Crawford) with 101 runs scored.

Davy Jones stands at the plate at Bennett Park during an April snow storm.

In what is arguably the greatest baseball book ever written, The Glory of Their Times by Lawrence Ritter, Jones is one of the 26 featured voices in this ground breaking oral history. Other featured Tigers are Crawford, Goose Goslin, and Hank Greenberg.

At the time of the interview with Ritter in the 1960s, Jones considered Sam Crawford still one of his best friends. But this is what he said about Cobb:

“Cobb was a very complex person—never did have many friends. Trouble was he had such a rotten disposition that it was damn hard to be his friend. I was probably the best friend he had on the club. I used to stick up for him, sit and talk with him on the long train trips, try to understand the man. He antagonized so many people that hardly anyone would speak to him, even among his own teammates. I always felt sorry for him.”

While still playing for the Tigers, Jones opened up a drug store in downtown Detroit with his brother and after he retired from baseball he obtained a pharmacy degree and was licensed. He later opened several of other drug stores in the area but retired in 1950. Jones passed away in 1972 at age 91 and is buried in Roseland Park Cemetery in Berkley, Michigan.

Although Jones had retired from baseball in 1915, Dan Holmes of the Baseball Hall of Fame recently made an interesting discovery.

Holmes saw a ball at the Hall of Fame with an inscription that said “Last ball used in game at Navin Field in last game of season, 1918 caught by Davy Jones.”

As it turns out, Jones was a spectator at the double header at Navin Field on the last game of the season (September 2, 1918 ) and while going over to the Detroit bench to say hello he was talked into playing in the second game. Jones played the final four innings and caught the last out after moving from left to center.

The official statistics had never credited Jones for playing in the game in part because historians who saw “D. Jones” assumed it was Tiger Deacon Jones who had played in that second game even though Davy Jones had relayed the story over the years. After Dan Holmes completed his research and confirmed the facts, he presented his findings to Elias Sports Bureau, MLB’s official statisticians who have now corrected the oversight.

Davy Jones’ legacy is now also remembered by his great grandson David Jones, a Colorado businessman who owns Davy Jones Bats, a company formed in 2008 that produces composite wood baseball bats.

10 replies on “Davy Jones: The Tiger Who Played in the Shadows of Cobb and Crawford

  • RWJambeau

    Hi there! Wow, never realized you had this blog! I am going to follow it frequently. I love baseball reference, so I will be on this one now also! 2 things… (1) any idea where I can buy audio recordings of old old games? like the recording when I call in to your place… Van Patrick? and (2) just bought some items yesterday and they arrived today!! You guys are soooo fantastic!!! I will only buy from you now! Thank you for making me look good!! RW

  • Alec

    I came to learn about Jones through my 1908 Strat-O-Matic replay. Jones played a utility role that season, but his speed made him esp. valuable as a pinch runner, which was a huge asset in the deadest of dead ball seasons.

  • Mickey D. Jones

    Thank you for your story on my Great Grandfather. We have many stories about him (Davy Jones). My Great Grandfather also was a lawyer. We have a newspaper article about Ty Cobb punching someone in the stands,and then he got thrown out of the game and suspended. My Great Grandfather Jones, with his law degree, was able to get all the tigers together and strike. This was noted that it was the first time ball players ever went on strike. It worked, and Ty Cobb was able to play again.

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