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Sam Jones (jonessa02)
From BR Bullpen
(Toothpick Sam or Sad Sam)
born Daniel Pore Franklin
- Bats Right, Throws Right
- Height 6' 4", Weight 200 lb.
- Debut September 22, 1951
- Final Game October 3, 1964
- Born December 14, 1923 in Stewartsville, OH USA
- Died November 5, 1971 in Morgantown, WV USA
 Biographical Information
"You've never seen a curveball until you've seen Sam Jones's curveball." - Hobie Landrith
Sam Jones was an intimidating pitcher. He was big, threw hard, had a massive sweeping curveball, and could be quite wild. Three times he led the National League in both strikeouts and walks (1955, 1956, and 1958). He narrowly missed this feat a fourth time in his finest season, 1959, when he was the NL's Pitcher of the Year. In 1955, Jones became the first African-American major leaguer to throw a no-hitter. He could have had at least two more, barring a dubious scoring decision and a fierce storm.
Samuel Jones was born Daniel Pore Franklin in Stewartsville, Ohio on December 14, 1925. Although the Social Security Death Index gives the year as 1923, census records and Sam’s gravestone show 1925, in line with baseball reference books. However, various newspaper articles over the years hinted that Jones might have been shaving years off his age for professional purposes.
The more interesting aspect is this man’s name at birth. The release of 1940 census data in 2012 shed light on his family background, where details had been lacking. His mother, Athelestine Jones, was born in Alabama around 1909. Her unusual given name and the fact that she was still living in Stewartsville in 1935 reveal her four-year-old son in the 1930 census – under the name Sam Franklin. Athelestine was married in her teens, but his father, John Franklin, was no longer with the family by 1930. A childhood friend named Robert Armstead, who later wrote a memoir about his life as a coal miner in West Virginia, said that Sam looked just like his mother – but never knew his real father.
Jones was known as "Sad Sam" for his mournful expression (and in memory of earlier Sad Sam Jones), and also "Toothpick Sam" because he was always chewing on a flat wooden toothpick. In a pro career that spanned 21 years (1947-1967), Jones got his start in the Negro Leagues in 1947 and 1948. He played in the semi-pro Southern Minnesota League in 1949 before signing with the Cleveland Indians, where he could not break into the starting rotation. He finally got a chance with the Chicago Cubs, who traded Ralph Kiner for him.
Sam was in the majors for eight full seasons (1955-1962) and parts of four others (1951-1952, 1963-1964). He had his biggest years with the St. Louis Cardinals and San Francisco Giants between 1957 and 1960. One of the most similar players, Mario Soto, is an interesting comparison.
He also played winter ball in five Caribbean nations: Panama, Venezuela, Puerto Rico (where he won the Triple Crown of pitching in 1954-55), the Dominican Republic, and Nicaragua. His last four summers were spent as a player-coach in the minor leagues with the Columbus Jets.
Jones, who had been treated for neck cancer during the 1962 season, died of a recurrence of the disease in 1971.
 Notable Achievements
- 1965 Pitcher of the Year International League Columbus Jets
- 2-time NL All-Star (1955 & 1959)
- NL ERA Leader (1959)
- NL Wins Leader (1959)
- 3-time NL Strikeouts Leader (1955, 1956 & 1958)
- NL Shutouts Leader (1959)
- 15 Wins Seasons: 2 (1959 & 1960)
- 20 Wins Seasons: 1 (1959)
- 200 Innings Pitched Seasons: 4 (1955 & 1958-1960)
- 200 Strikeouts Seasons: 2 (1958 & 1959)