FoB Interview with San Diego Padres legend Randy Jones
You made your debut in 1973. What was life like in the major leagues at that time and were there any players who went out of their way to show you the ropes?
Randy Jones: Yeah, when I got called up in early-July in ’73, those were pretty exciting times, especially in that era. The 70s and 80s had some great ballplayers still playing. Getting to face guys like Mays and Aaron and those type of players, you know, and competing against Seaver and Carlton and Nolan Ryan and pitching against all those guys, it was pretty phenomenal.
The game was still old-school then; a lot of guys getting knocked down, a lot of big arguments, a friendlier strike zone, compared to today. There was a lot of stuff going on at that point in time. It was cool.
Talking about guys who reached out, Nate Colbert and Cito Gaston were great teammates who kind of reached out to me when I got up to the big leagues and showed me some of the ropes. Bob Miller, the old relief pitcher, did as well. Mike Halliwell was a good teammate.
All of these guys had a degree of experience so that came in handy especially that first year. I didn’t say much. Back in the old days, for rookies, you spoke when you were spoken to by the veterans. I was pretty quiet most of the time. Long on ears and short on mouth.
In 1974 you went 8-22 4.45 ERA. The next season you turned it all around, going 20-12 2.24 ERA. How were you able to bring it all together?
RJ: I think finally getting the rationale of what happened in 1974 helped a little bit. When I finally put it all in perspective and started thinking about it, and I have to credit my new pitching coach at the time, Tom Morgan, it helped me kind of do that.
It seemed like in all of my starts I was in the game, for the most part, into the 6th inning and then I’d get into trouble. I wasn’t getting a lot of run support, but still, I’d get a little tired and start elevating the baseball. And once you start elevating that sinker, you are gonna get in trouble.
And that inconsistency is probably what cost me. The high ERA was a result of the last two months of the season. I just got rocked. I lost my confidence. It wasn’t pretty. I went into ’75 and Tom Morgan wanted to make some changes to my mechanics and I bought into what he wanted to do.
We started working on it in January, heading into Spring Training. I started getting really comfortable with him, started training better. Then once I got to Spring Training I went out there feeling like I really had to win my job after losing 22 games and I didn’t give up a run all spring (30 innings).
I was just trying to make the club. I didn’t know I was going to be that good. Then I was named Opening Day starter and that kind of shocked me. It took about two or three starts into the ’75 season to really find my stuff.
Actually, I’ll tell you exactly when it was. I won my third game, a relief appearance against the Dodgers at Dodger Stadium. I’d only went 2 2/3 innings the start before. Tom Morgan took me out to the bullpen and brought me in in about the 4th inning, I pitched the rest of the game and we won.
I was just locked in that day. All the mechanics, all of the consistency that I’d been wanting were just kind of locked in and I was off to the races. I think I went 11-3 the first half of the year and all of a sudden my confidence was back and my mental approach had completely changed. All of a sudden all of that bad luck turned into good luck and it as a completely different world.