Jesse Haines started his baseball career playing in Montgomery County corn fields against his parents’ wishes.
Over the coming decades, the Clayton native became a knuckleball-throwing St. Louis Cardinals pitcher, a baseball Hall of Famer and a longtime Montgomery County Auditor.
Haines, who became known as “Pop” during his playing career because of the influence he had on younger players, pitched for the Cardinals for 18 years. He went 210-158 from 1920-37.
He was born on July 22, 1893, in Clayton and would grow up in Phillipsburg. His career began in Dayton in 1912 in a semi-pro league. In 1918, he played briefly for the Cincinnati Reds.
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By 1920, he made it to the major leagues at the age of 26. He was part of three World Series-winning teams in 1926, 1931 and 1934.
Haines’ last appearance in the major leagues was on Sept. 10, 1937 at the age of 43. He would go on to coach the Brooklyn Dodgers for one season in 1938.
Haines was inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame in 1970 by the Veteran’s Committee after many years of attempts. In 2014, he was inducted in the Cardinals Hall of Fame.
Haines married Carrie M. Weidner while he played in the minor leagues, and they had one daughter. He was the Montgomery County Auditor for 28 years, until his death on Aug. 5, 1978.
“Some may remember Jesse Haines’ legacy as a pitcher for the St. Louis Cardinals, but not many know he was the longest-serving auditor in Montgomery County history,” said Montgomery County Auditor Karl Keith.
The grave in Clayton incorporates the sundial given to him by the Cardinals upon his retirement. It has since become a local attraction.
“It’s not easy to be county auditor for 28 years, which is why I decided to memorialize Jesse Haines’ long service to Montgomery County by establishing an award in his name. The Jesse Haines Award recognizes an outstanding local government finance official each year,” Keith said.
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