Jan 24, 2016

Former N.L. Cy Young Winner & Early Eighties Mets Pitcher: Randy Jones (1981-1982)

Randall Leo Jones was born January 12, 1950 in Fullerton, California located in Northern Orange County.  The tall six foot lefty was drafted by the San Diego Padres in the fifth round of the 1972 draft. He only spent parts of two seasons in the minors blowing through AA at 8-1 with a 2.01 ERA in 1973 getting brought right up to a needy Padre pitching staff. 

He made his MLB debut at Shea Stadium on June 16th against Jerry Koosman, allowing two runs in four innings but getting no decision in the Mets 10-2 win. Jones then lost his first two decisions before earning his first career win in Los Angeles on July 3rd. Overall he went 7-6 in 1973 with a 3.16 ERA & became known with the nickname “The Junkman”.

In 1974 he led the league in losses (22) going 8-22 on a Padre team that lost 102 games. He had losing streaks of four straight to begin the season, then five straight from May into June. The year got worse as he lost seven straight including going 1-8 in the final two months. Overall he threw over 208 innings while striking out 124 batters while posting a 4.45 ERA.

Somehow Jones turned it all around in 1975, and won the NL Comeback pitcher of the Year Award. He threw a four hit shout for nine innings on Opening Day but got no decision. He threw another four hitter the next month & one July 3rd pitched a one hitter against the mighty Big Red Machine.

By the end of the first half of the season he was 11-6 with one of the league's best ERA's at 2.25. He made the All Star team earning the save pitching a scoreless 9th inning, retiring the Minnesota Twins Rod Carew for the last out.

The 1975 Padres won 71 games (71-91) finishing in fourth place under manager John McNamara, Jones finished with 20 wins himself (20-12) the second most victories in the NL. He led the league with a 2.24 ERA, was second with 18 complete games & in shut outs (6). He had the second best walks per nine innings ratio at 1.76 & made 36 starts.

In the bicentennial year, he won the Cy Young Award beating out the Mets Jerry Koosman. Many Mets fans (myself included) believed Koosman should have won the Award; he was 21-10 (second in wins) with three shutouts, 17 complete games, a 2.69 ERA (4th in the NL) & 200 strikeouts (3rd in the NL) in 247 innings pitched.

Jones led the league in wins (22) complete games (25) starts (40) and an incredible 315 innings pitched. His 2.76 ERA was sixth in the league behind some very good pitchers.

The junkman only struck out 93 batters & in his career never had more than 124 strikeouts in a season. That season Jones set a record for most chances by a pitcher without an error (112), posting a perfect fielding percentage (1.000. ) He also tied the NL pitchers season record for the most double plays with twelve.

He began the year at 4-0, in May he pitched five straight complete games besting his record to 9-2. In June he shut out the Mets at Jack Murphy Stadium allowing seven hits in a 3-0 win over Tom Seaver.

He was 16-3 at the All Star break, and got the start against Mark the Bird Fidrych at the All Star game in Philadelphia. He pitched three scoreless innings allowing just two hits earning the victory.

He had a rough August 2-6 and a rough September as well 2-4. At the end of the season he injured a nerve in his pitching arm and required surgery. He was never the same pitcher, going just 6-12 the next season with a 4.58 ERA pitching 27 games.

He then two had a pair of sub .500 seasons, first in 1978 he was 13-14 but lowered his ERA to 2.88 on a Padre team that was 84-78 finishing fourth. In 1979 he was 11-12 with a 3.63 ERA.

1980 was an injury ridden season again as he lost a month of action from June 14th -July 10th. He then was lost from August 22nd through September with more injuries. He went 5-13 with a 3.91 ERA in 24 starts.

On December 15, 1980 Jones was traded to the New York Mets, for John Pacella and Jose Moreno.

He made his Mets debut in the third game of the 1981 season at Wrigley Field, pitching six innings allowing just one run getting no decision. It was one of his best starts, after that he lost his first five decisions as a Met, pitching past the 6th inning just once. After being 0-5 he finally got a win, beating the Cubs at Shea Stadium, allowing just one run in 5.2 innings of work. 

Jones then lost three more games although he pitched well in two of them. He pitched six innings allowing two runs at Houston on June 5th but was beaten by Nolan Ryan who threw a five hit shutout striking out ten Mets. 

His next start was at Shea, Jones went into the 8th inning on a two run five hitter but lost to the Reds Mario Soto who pitched a 2-0 twelve strike out shut out. Jones then went on the DL for three months returning in September for two more appearances. He finished the year at 1-8 with 12 starts striking out 14 batters walking 38 in 59 innings pitched posting a 4.85 ERA.

1982 would be his last year pitching as he rebounded a bit, starting the year at 2-0. He was given the start on Opening Day by manager George Bamberger. Jones beat Steve Carlton in Philadelphia, allowing just one run in six innings of work. On May 2nd he pitched 8 innings of shutout ball in San Francisco as the Mets beat the Giants 3-1 in the night cap of a double header. Jones threw a complete game victory against the Padres on May 10th besting his record to 4-1.

He had a fantastic May going 4-2 pitching seven or more innings in all but one of seven starts. On May 23rd in Houston he threw his best Mets game, a four hit six strikeout performance in 2-0 win over Joe Niekro. After entering June with a 6-3 record he then went on to lose six straight decisions going 7-10 posting a 4.60 ERA on the year.

Injuries only had him make one appearance after August 25th, on the year he allowed 11 HRs, with 51 walks, in 107 innings striking out 44 batters. The Mets released him that winter; and he finished his playing career.

In ten career seasons he went 100-123 with a 3.42 ERA & 735 strikeouts 503 walks in 1933 innings in 305 games. In 285 starts he had 73 complete games & 19 shut outs Jones is the only Cy Young Award winner to have a career losing record.

Retirement: He is the owner of Randy Jones Big Stone Lodge, the home of his catering business that sells a famous Randy Jones BBQ sauce.

In San Diego’ s Petco Park he has a concession stand named after him called the Randy Jones BBQ. He also does Padres local radio broadcast for pregame shows.

Jones was inducted into the San Diego Hall of Champions and has his number retired by the Padre team as well.

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