I can't stand reading some of this.
The AA was NOT a weak sister, a minor league, or a "barely major" league. Although there were several seasons when the NL was superior, it is not the case that it always was, and there were several seasons when the AA was the superior league- 1886 being the most prominent. From its inception until 1889 the AA outdrew the NL in attendance each and every year with the Browns most often being the biggest baseball draw in the country. At its peak (again-1886) before the Sam Barkley disaster started turning things around, the AA won the series (and do not tell me the 86 series was an exhibition- the Chicago/St. Louis rivalry was the biggest in the nation in the 19th c.), AA runner up Pittsburgh (second in the country in attendance after St. Loo) beat NL runner up Detroit in their series, AA third place Brooklyn beat NL number three New York in their series, and even last place AA Baltimore beat last place NL Washington in their series. In fact, by that point at the end of five seasons, the AA won well over half its matches against the NL (albeit they were called exhibitons, but pride is pride). If a league is more popular at the box office than another league for a given period and also outperforms it on the field during that period, i don't think it's fair to look at those league 120 years later and say that the losing league in both respects was clearly better.
After the 86 series, Spalding and Anson sent a public telegram stating that they knew when they were beat and the best baseball team in the USA was from St. Louis. This, mind you, coming from the team of Anson, King Kelly, and John Clarkson at their peaks (.371, .388, and 150 ERA+ respectively). The Browns beat them well- handing Chicago the worst loss in its history in game two 12-0 on a Bob Caruthers one-hitter.
It's very easy to say nowadays that the AA was weaker and its players were second tier, but it's not that simple. It's especially revisionist to simply dismiss the AA because...other people do.
AA players got as much respect from the fans as their NL counterparts did, and here's a hint- one of the best ways to judge a sports team from any era in any sport is to follow the bookies. 120 years later on, we may not be the best judges of quality, no matter what numers and stats we have, but contemporary bookmakers don't eat if they don't judge teams well overall.
Cut to the end of the 89 season. Boston- with King Kelly, Dan Brouthers, John Clarkson, and Hoss Radbourn- finishes second in the NL. They are beaten by New York- who feature Buck Ewing, Roger Connor, Monte Ward, Jim O'Rourke, George Gore, Mike Tiernan, Tim Keefe, and Mickey Welch. After the pennant race, the Giants have a week to rest and train before the series.
Brooklyn- featuring Bob Caruthers and nobody else you've ever heard of (except maybe Oyster Burns)- squeaked out their league title and had exactly one day free between season finale and series opener. They were exhausted and played the opener against the New York Hall of Fame All-Stars in Manhattan. What were the bookmakers' odds for the series?
(Having said that it's a bit of an anti-climax that New York won.)
In 1890- it's questionable whether the NATIONAL league was a major league (there's a great thread on it in the 19th c. section), and the AA was certainly a cut above it- although the PL was better than both.
The AA and its stars deserve soooo much more credit than they've been getting here. People dismiss the AA without backing it up; just sort of assuming that it was weaker because it "failed", but here's the thing- it DIDN'T fail. It didn't fold or become "absorbed" by the NL- that's easy to assume because the consolidated name, "the National League and American Association of Baseball" was so unwieldy that it got shortened to the National League pretty quickly (did you know that the original choice for consolidated name was the American league?). Consolidation was a pure economic move to stop spiralling player salaries after the National Agreement was broken and followed by a frenzy of player raids in late 1891. Again, there are very good discussions of all this in the 19th c. section.
Heck, I'm ranting. I do agree, however, with whoever wrote that Charley Jones deserves to be in the hall. And I disagree with anyone who says that a ten year career is too short for consideration- if it was too short the Hall would have made the minimum eleven years (I don't have too much respect for the Hall anyhow, though, since they're the lead culprits in the "the AA was crap" game).