Samuel ‘Sad Sam’ Pond Jones (1892-1966) reached the pinnacle of his major league pitching career on September 4, 1923 when he threw a no-hit, no-run game against the Philadelphia Athletics to lead the New York Yankees to their first World Series title.
“That slow ball of his simply floats up there and you swing your head off,” said Hall of Famer Tris Speaker. Jones was sent from Cleveland to the Red Sox in a 1916 trade for Speaker. “Then he’s got a fast one that’s on top of you before you realize it. Plus, he’s got as good a curve-ball as anyone in the league.”
The Woodfield, OH ballplayer was one of professional baseball’s top pitchers in the early 1900s. Jones had a lifetime record of 229 victories (including 36 shutouts and one no-hitter) and 216 defeats.
He started his 22 year career with the Cleveland Indians in 1914; only he and Cy Young pitched that many years consecutively in the majors. “You know, I think one reason I pitched so long is that I never wasted my arm trying to throw to first to keep runners close to the base,” Jones told baseball biographer Lawrence Ritter in 1966. “There was a time there, for five years, I never once threw to first base to chase a runner back. Not once in five years. Ripley put that in ‘Believe it or Not.’”
Later Jones played for the Boston Red Sox, New York Yankees, St Louis Browns, Washington Senators, and Chicago White Sox (there were only two American League teams he didn’t play for). He posted a career high 23 victories for Boston in 1921 and won 21 for New York in 1923.
His best seasons were with the Red Sox, in 1918, when he led the league with a 16-5 record, and in 1921, when he won 23 and lost 16. He appeared in four World Series.
Sad Sam, the Cemetery Man was actually a whimsical man full of backwoods humor. Rookie sportswriter Bill McGeehan of the New York Herald-Tribune dubbed him that because, to him, Jones looked downcast on the field. “I would always wear my cap down real low over my eyes,” Jones explained to author Ritter. “And the sportswriters were more used to fellows like Waite Hoyt, who’d always wear their caps way up so they wouldn’t miss any pretty girls.”
Jones was also called Horsewhips, because of the crack of his sharp breaking ball. Jones was born in Woodsfield, OH, which further earned him the moniker “The Squire of Woodsfield.”
“Great eye,” he once said of Babe Ruth. “He don’t hit bad balls because he makes good ones out of everything you throw him—four inches outside the plate or in the dirt.”
Jones retired in 1935 as the oldest player in that season (42). His 22 consecutive seasons pitching in one league is a major league record shared with Herb Pennock, Early Wynn, Red Ruffing and Steve Carlton.
1918: Babe Ruth and the World Champion Boston Red Sox, by Allan Wood, iUniverse, 2000
The Glory of Their Times: The Story of Early Days of Baseball Told by the Men who Played it, by Lawrence S. Ritter, Macmillan Co, 1966