Sam Jones (baseball)

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Sam Jones
Pitcher
Born: (1925-12-14)December 14, 1925
Stewartsville, Ohio
Died: November 5, 1971(1971-11-05) (aged 45)
Morgantown, West Virginia
Batted: Right Threw: Right
MLB debut
September 22, 1951 for the Cleveland Indians
Last MLB appearance
October 3, 1964 for the Baltimore Orioles
Career statistics
Win–loss record 102–101
Earned run average 3.59
Strikeouts 1,376
Teams
Career highlights and awards

Samuel Jones (December 14, 1925 – November 5, 1971), known during his career as "Toothpick Sam" Jones or "Sad Sam" Jones, was a Major League Baseball pitcher who played from 1951 to 1964.

Born in Stewartsville, Ohio, Jones began his major league career with the Cleveland Indians in 1951. When he entered a game on May 3, 1952, 39-year-old rookie Quincy Trouppe, a Negro League veteran, was behind the plate. Together they formed the first black battery in American League history. Both Sam Jones and Quincy Trouppe played for the Cleveland Buckeyes in the Negro League

After the 1954 season, the Tribe traded him to the Chicago Cubs for two players to be named later, one of who was slugger Ralph Kiner. In 1956, the Cubs traded him to the St. Louis Cardinals in a multi-player deal; prior to the 1959 season, he was dealt once again, this time to the San Francisco Giants for Bill White and Ray Jablonski. He was picked 25th by the expansion Houston Colt .45s in the 1961 expansion draft, then traded to the Detroit Tigers for Bob Bruce and Manny Montejo. He rejoined the Cardinals for the 1963 campaign and played 1964 with the Baltimore Orioles. He spent the final three years of his pro career as a relief pitcher with the Columbus Jets of the International League before retiring at the end of the 1967 season.

During his career, Jones was known for his sweeping curveball, in addition to a fastball and changeup. Stan Musial once remarked, "Sam had the best curveball I ever saw... He was quick and fast and that curve was terrific, so big it was like a change of pace. I've seen guys fall down on curves that became strikes." [1]

During his career, Jones led the National League in strikeouts, and walks, three times: in 1955, 1956, and 1958. On May 12 of the former of these three seasons, he no-hit the Pittsburgh Pirates 4-0 at Wrigley Field, becoming the first African American in Major League history to pitch a no-hitter. He achieved this no-hitter in the hardest way: after walking Gene Freese, Preston Ward (who was pinch-run for by Román Mejías) and Tom Saffell to begin the ninth inning, he left the bases loaded by striking out Dick Groat, Roberto Clemente and Frank Thomas in succession. His greatest year came with the Giants in 1959, when he led the league in both wins with 21 (tying him with Milwaukee Braves starters Lew Burdette and Warren Spahn) and ERA with 2.83. He was named 1959 National League Pitcher of the Year by The Sporting News, but finished a distant second to Early Wynn of the Chicago White Sox for the Cy Young Award. He was named to the NL All-Star team twice, in 1955 and 1959.

While his major league won-lost record of 102-101 is not especially impressive, Jones was a combined 104-66 over 10 minor league seasons. According to various sources Jones also had a combined record of either 13-10 or 19-11 over two Negro League seasons in 1947 and 1948, and recorded a 10-2 won-lost record in 1949 for the Rochester Royals of the semipro Southern Minnesota League. These win totals, combined with his record over numerous winters spent playing in Caribbean winter leagues, rank Jones among the most successful pitchers in professional baseball history.

Jones died from a recurrence of neck cancer first diagnosed in 1962, in Morgantown, West Virginia at the age of 45.

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ The Neyer/James Guide to Pitchers: An Historical Compendium of Pitching, Pitchers, and Pitches. Bill James and Rob Neyer. 2004.

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