Greatest Moments: No. 13, Sam Jones' No-Hitter

By Chris Rewers on Tuesday, January 18, 2011

(Editor's Note: Eighteenth in a series recalling the 30 greatest moments in Cubs history.)

There was no denying that Cubs pitcher Sam "Toothpick" Jones had a live arm. The hard-throwing Jones, an imposing figure who stood 6-feet-4, led the National League in strikeouts in 1955 and 1956.


The sports pages of The Detroit Free Press on May 13, 1955 featured news of the Cubs' Sam "Toothpick" Jones' no-hitter against the Pittsburgh Pirates at Wrigley Field.

The problem was Jones often times struggled to locate the strike zone, leading the NL in walks in each of those years.

Every time Jones took the mound during his two seasons with the Cubs, it was a sure thing that fans and manager Stan Hack would be treated to a fair share of thrills and chills.

Jones, who played with a toothpick protruding from the corner of his mouth, performed his greatest high wire act on May 12, 1955 at Wrigley Field when he pitched a no-hitter in the Cubs' 4-0 victory over the Pittsburgh Pirates.

Jones walked seven and struck out six on a rollercoaster ride for a 2,918 fans - the third smallest Wrigley crowd of the season - on a chilly Thursday afternoon.

It was the first no-no at the Friendly Confines since Cincinnati's Fred Toney outdueled the Cubs' James "Hippo" Vaughn on May 2, 1917 in the famous "Double No-Hitter" and the first by a Cub since Jimmy Lavender authored one against the host New York Giants on Aug. 31, 1915.

Jones was relatively efficient through the first seven innings, issuing three walks. None of those baserunners reached second base. Dale Long was caught stealing in the second inning, Toby Atwell was stranded at first after a leadoff walk in the third, and Long was erased in a George Freese double play grounder in the fifth.

The Cubs scored once in the first and again in the second on an RBI doubles by Ted Tappe and Eddie Miksis. Ernie Banks tripled in a run in the fifth and Tappe homered in the seventh to give Jones a four-run cushion.

The wild ride began in the eighth when Long led off with his third walk of the afternoon. The next batter, Freese, smashed a deep drive to center that looked like trouble.

Fortunately for Jones, the ball was knocked down by a stiff breeze and center fielder Miksis was able to make a sensational leaping catch in front of the warning track. The next batter, Atwell, ripped a liner that was caught by third baseman Ransom Jackson who then doubled Long off of first base to end the inning.

With the crowd on its feet, Jones shakily opened the ninth by walking eighth-place hitter Gene Freese. He followed with a wild pitch, and walks to Preston Ward and Tom Saffell to load the bases.

Hack was faced with a difficult decision - bases loaded, no outs, a pitcher with a no-hitter who was running out of gas, a suddenly slim four-run lead, and the heart of the Pittsburgh order due up. Hack, resisting his instincts, decided to give Jones one more chance after a visit to the mound that was accompanied by boos.

Hack's advice to Jones: "Get the ball over. That's all."

The Cubs skipper was cheered as he returned to the dugout and then held on tight along with the fans watching at Wrigley Field and on WGN.

Jones struck out Dick Groat on three pitches, rookie Roberto Clemente on five pitches, and Frank Thomas on four. Jones fired strikes on nine of his final 12 pitches and attained baseball immortality.

Jones said after the game that he was unaware of his gem until he was swarmed by his teammates.

"I was just out there throwing fastballs and curves," Jones said after the game. "(Catcher) Clyde (McCullough) deserves all the credit. I just kept throwing what he told me."

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