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Slim Jones

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Stuart Jones

  • Bats Left, Throws Left
  • Height 6' 6", Weight 185 lb.

Slim Jones was a dominant pitcher for one great year in the Negro Leagues, before his arm went bad. He died at either age 25, a story of what might have been. The tall southpaw was known for a superb fastball and good curveball.

A former softball player, Jones tried out for the Baltimore Black Sox in 1932 but went 0-3; a year later, he was back with a 5-2 record, best on the staff. He also struck out 41, 5th in the Negro National League. After striking out 210 in the Puerto Rican Winter League, Jones was ready for stardom.

In 1934, Slim had his one great year after joining the Philadelphia Stars. He went 21-7 with a 2.23 RA and 112 strikeouts, leading the Stars to the second-half pennant. The 21-year-old was second to Satchel Paige in RA and strikeouts and led the NNL in victories. The youngster got the start for the East in the 1934 East-West Game and pitched three shutout innings, fanning four and allowing one hit and one walk; the East won 1-0.

In September, promoters arranged for a Paige-Jones matchup at Yankee Stadium. Monte Irvin, who later played in the Shot Heard 'Round the World game, called the matchup the best baseball game he ever saw. Jones led 1-0 entering the bottom of the 7th but an error by Dick Seay and singles by Chester Williams and Jimmie Crutchfield tied the game, which was called after 9 due to darkness with a 1-1 finale. A rematch was seen by another huge crowd (35,000 the first game, 30,000 the next) a week later. Jones again allowed only five hits to the Pittsburgh Crawfords, but lost 3-1 as Paige only allowed two hits.

In the post-season, Jones lost one game in relief on a hit by Mule Suttles in the 9th, then lost a 3-0 duel to Ted Trent in game two. With Philadelphia having evened the series at 3 games each, Jones faced Sug Cornelius in the finale on October 12. Jones pitched a five-hit shutout and doubled in a run in the 2-0 victory.

To cap his wonderful year, Slim topped another pitcher coming off a great campaign, Dizzy Dean, in an exhibition.

Jones was a drinker, though, and his career soured. He quit the team briefly to protest his low pay in 1935 but did little to warrant a big salary as he fell to 5-10. With fans recalling his form of 1934, though, he was the #2 vote-getter among pitchers for the 1935 East-West Game, behind only Luis Tiant Sr.. Despite his unimpressive regular season, he dazzled in the East-West campaign, throwing 3 scoreless innings as the East's starter, allowing one hit and two walks while striking out one. At the plate, Jones went 2 for 2 with a solo home run and left with a 3-0 lead; the West would rally for a dramatic 11-8 win, though, as Leon Day, Tiant and Martin Dihigo were all toasted by the bats of Josh Gibson, Suttles and company.

Jones was 1-2 in 1936, 1-1 in 1937 and 2-1 in 1938 to conclude his career with a 35-26 record, but only 14-19 outside of his 1934 season.

Slim asked Stars owner Ed Bolden for an advance in the winter of 1938 but Bolden couldn't afford it. Jones sold his overcoat in order to buy a bottle of whiskey. Shortly thereafter, he got pneumonia and died.

Sources: The Biographical Encyclopedia of the Negro Baseball Leagues by James Riley, The Complete Book of Baseball's Negro Leagues by John Holway, Black Baseball's National Showcase by Larry Lester

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