Truth be be told, it was “Dandy” Randy Jones that put the San Diego Padres on the map. Hell, he might have even saved the team from being relocated Washington D.C. back in its early days.
See, Jones did one thing well, two actually, in this case, where one led to the other. The southpaw threw a nasty sinker, which resulted in ground balls. Lots of ground balls.
“It’s almost uncanny the way he can consistently keep that ball around the knees,” Chicago Cubs Manager Jim Marshall told Baseball Digest in 1976. “It’s just tough to hit a fly ball off him.”
Originally a 1972 fifth round pick out of Chapman University, Jones joined the big club in 1973, skipping Triple-A, and making his debut on June 16 just in time to lose 10-2 to the Mets. As luck would have it, the Padres were well on their way to the first of back-to-back 60-102 seasons, which may have actually worked in Randy Jones favor because Don Zimmer and John McNamara, the Padres Managers in ’73 and ’74, needed pitchers, especially young ones who could eat up innings.
And could this 23-year-old ever devour innings. As a rookie he pitched 139.2 innings, going 7-6, with a 3.16 ERA. His sophomore season, he pitched 208.1 innings, going 8-22, with a 4.45 ERA. His eight wins were only one off of the team lead
Entering the 1975 season, the Padres had gone a combined 354-608 in their first six years, and with no emergence of a true star no the mound, it was Dandy Randy’s time to shine.
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In 1975, Jones pitched in 37 games, starting 36. He pitched 18 complete games and threw 285 innings. Overall, we went 20-12 with a 2.24 ERA — becoming the first San Diego Padre to win 20 games. Additionally, he pitched the final inning of the All-Star Game, a 6-3 National League win, giving up a hit and no runs, finished 10th in NL MVP voting and finished second to future Hall of Famer Tom Seaver in NL CY Young voting, who had gone 22-9 with a 2.38 ERA.
It turned out Jones was just getting warmed up. In 1976, from May 17 through June 26, 68 innings in all, Jones did not walk a single batter, which tied Christy Mathewson’s 63-year-old National League record. Furthermore, in ’76, he started 40 games and pitched an incredible 25 complete games, to go along with 315.1 innings. On the year, he went 22-14, with a 2.74 ERA. To put that into perspective consider the stats of the last five National League Cy Young Award winners:
- 2014 Clayton Kershaw 21-3 1.77 ERA 198.1 innings 27 starts *six complete games
- 2013 Clayton Kershaw 16-9 1.83 ERA 236 innings 33 starts three complete games
- 2012 R.A. Dickey 20-6 2.73 ERA *233.2 innings *33 starts *five complete games
- 2011 Clayton Kershaw 21-5 2.28 ERA 233.1 innings 33 starts five complete games
- 2010 Roy Halladay 21-10 2.44 ERA *250.2 inning 33 starts *nine complete games
* Led the National League
On July 12, 1976 he became the first Padre to appear on the cover of Sports Illustrated, under the title, “THREAT TO WIN 30,” with a sub heading of “San Diego’s Confounding Randy Jones.”
Deservedly, he was named the starter of the 1976 All-Star Game, in Philadelphia, after starting 16-3. In the game, he threw three innings, allowing two hits, no runs and picked up the win for the National League, which went on to a 7-1 victory — and, as result, owns the prominence of recording a save in the previous All-Star Game and being the winning pitcher in the next.
In ’76, Jones also set the Major League record for most chances by a pitcher without an error, and registered a 1.000 fielding percentage.
And finally, in 1976 Randy Jones won his Cy Young Award, receiving 96% of the vote.
Overall, Jones also won the Sporting News Pitcher of the Year, was named pitcher of the month in both April and May of 1976, and again finished 10th in NL MVP voting on a 73-89 team. In his career, he was named the player of the week four times in two different decades, and finished with a career ERA of 3.42 , and won 100 games over 10 years.
In the Padres record books, he ranks:
- 1st in innings 1766
- 1st in complete games 71
- 1st in shutouts 18
- 2nd in wins 92
- 5th career ERA 3.30
Runner Up: Padres win their only World Series game in 1984. In the magical year that was 1984, “Dirty” Kurt Bevacqua, who was starting as designated hitter due to antiquated baseball rules, homered helping to led the Padres to a 5-2 win, which is only game the Padres have won in a total of nine Fall Classic games. In the series, Dirty Kurt hit .412 with two homers and four RBIs, and wasn’t afraid to blow kisses to the crowd, which I got the impression pissed Kirk Gibson off.