San Diego Padres: FoB Sits Down With Friars HOF’er Randy Jones

SAN DIEGO, CA - JULY 12: Former San Diego Padre Randy Jones (R) greets Wil Myers
SAN DIEGO, CA - JULY 12: Former San Diego Padre Randy Jones (R) greets Wil Myers /
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SAN DIEGO, CA – AUGUST 21: Retired San Diego Padres players (L-R) Steve Garvey, Tony Gwynn, Dave Winfield, and Randy Jones walk onto the field as they are introduced during the jersey retirement ceremony of Trevor Hoffman by the San Diego Padres prior to the game against the Florida Marlins at Petco Park on August 21, 2011 in San Diego, California. (Photo by Kent C. Horner/Getty Images) /

FoB Interview with San Diego Padres legend Randy Jones

That brings me right to my next question. Were you ever at the point from 1975 to 1976 that you just expected to go out there and have your A-game? Was your confidence that high?

RJ: Uh, yeah (laughs). By the end of ’75, my confidence was pretty high.  Winning the ERA title (in ’75). I purposely pitched the last game of the year, my scheduled start, even though (Tom) Seaver was pitching and Andy Messersmith was pitching too (both were within striking reach of the ERA title).

The team came to me and said, “if you don’t pick up the baseball, you automatically win the NL ERA title”. I looked at him and I said I was gonna go out there and earn it. I made the last start and got beat by the Giants. But that’s all right. I won the ERA title fair-and-square.

In 1975, you lost two no-hitters in the 7th inning or later. Have you ever second-guessed any decisions you made during those games or were you able to simply turn the page and move on?

RJ: I turned the page and moved on. The one in St. Louis was a 10-inning one-hitter against the Cardinals. The only hit I gave up was to (career .248 hitter) Luis Melendez. A ground ball to my right that rolled off of my glove and he got an infield hit, and that was it.

The other one was against the Reds. I had a perfect game through seven and Tony Perez led off the 8th and hit a groundball to shortstop that Hector Torres threw about four rows up into the stands. There went the perfect game. Then I had two outs and Perez on third. I tried to jam Bill Plummer, of all people, with a slider and he hit a little flare to right for a single. I lost the no-hitter and the shutout in one pitch. No second guesses though.

Your off-speed stuff obviously played very well during the era you played in with so many slap-hitters and so much speed and small-ball. Do you think the era that you played in benefitted your career, considering your pitching-style?

RJ: Yes. Even to get the opportunity to make the big leagues as a pitch-to-contact, groundball pitcher, it’s a different mindset or a different philosophy when you’re out there. I mean, today with the radar guns and speed being as important as it is, I’m not even sure I’d have got signed (laughs).

All I knew is that I could figure out a hitter’s weaknesses and I would work on those and get them out.

You guys didn’t have half of the technology that players have available to them now so you just had to keep your notes and approach it like that?

RJ: Yeah, and they’re mental notes. I didn’t write a thing down. I didn’t have to. I knew every lineup that I was gonna pitch against. You would make some very quick assessments while the guy is in the box and, you know, feel him out and figure out what you had to do. It didn’t take too long.

The big thing is when you have command and good control, you can take advantage of a strike zone or of an umpire’s strike zone. It was just a completely different type of game. That’s all I had. I didn’t beat myself. That was one of the keys.