Smead Jolley Essentials

Positions: Outfield
Bats: Left Throws: Right
Height: 6′-3″ Weight: 210
Born: Tuesday, January 14, 1902 in Wesson, AR USA
Died: November 17, 1991 in Alameda, CA USA
Debut:  April 17, 1930
Last Game: October 1, 1933
Full Name: Smead Powell Jolley
Full Major League Stats – Stats
Minor League Stats
Nicknames: Guinea or Smudge
View Player Bio from the SABR BioProject

smead jolleySmead Jolley was one of the greatest hitters ever to play baseball and was one of the worst outfielders ever to put on a glove. Smead was so bad afield that he would make routine plays into the most precarious adventures. In only 4 seasons of outfield play in the majors, he managed to make 44 errors.

While tearing up the minors with his bat from 1926 to 1929, he was touted as the next Babe Ruth. His teammates in the minors included Earl Averill and Roy Johnson. Scouted by Bessie Largent and her husband Roy for the Chisox, Charles Comiskey shelled out big bucks to sign him.

While his minor league hitting feats are legendary, his major league fielding flops are infamous. Slow-footed Smead was so bad with a glove on his hand he could have made Harmon Killebrew look like a gold glover.

The first The Baseball Hall of Shame book retells the baseball Apocrypha that Smead once made three errors on one play. The official scorer, perhaps out of the kindness of his heart or in the shock of disbelief credited him with only two. There is no evidence that this is anything other than a baseball folk-tale but the story does nicely depict Jolley’s reputation with a glove on his hand.

Another baseball folk-tale about Jolley reports the Red Sox coaches spent days teaching him how to approach the ten-foot incline (Duffy’s Cliff) that was then part of the left-field area. (These were the days before warning tracks.) In one game against Washington, Smead showed that he could run up the incline, but he discovered that he had overrun a fly ball. Turning around to recover himself, Jolley started back down the incline only to fall on his face. When he got back into the dugout, Jolley yelled at his coaches saying, “For ten days you teach me to go up the hill, but none of you have the brains to teach me how to come down.”

If Jolley had played in the designated hitter era, he might have set the kind of hitting records he did in the minors, but alas for Smead, he played in the days when fielding was as valued almost as much as hitting.

In 2003 he was elected to the Pacific Coast League Hall of Fame.