Jones was an outstanding but often controversial slugger during the 1870s and 1880s. With Cincinnati from 1876 to 1878, he became the Reds’ most popular player but was sometimes criticized in the press for carousing. In 1877, he caused a furor by signing a contract with the Cubs when he believed that his Cincinnati team was about to fold. After two games with Chicago, he returned to the still-struggling Reds.
However, in 1879 Jones was able to sign a three-year contract with Boston. He led the NL in home runs (9) and RBI (62) in 1879 for the Braves. The next year he became the first player to hit two homers in one inning (June 10, 1880). But after the 1880 season he was suspended by the club and blacklisted for refusing to play. He countered that he had not been paid and sued for his salary. A jury sided with the club and Jones stayed out of baseball until 1883 when the blacklisting was lifted and he signed with Cincinnati of the American Association. In 1884, he became the third man to hit three triples in one game.