Sam "Toothpick" Jones First African American To Hurl A No-Hitter

By Joecubs
Nov. 09, 2016

On May 12, 1955, Sam "Toothpick" Jones would go into the history books as the first African-American pitcher to toss a no-hitter in the Major Leagues. Jones had walked the bases loaded in the ninth before coming back to fan the side including Hall of Fame outfielder Roberto Clemente in the 4-0 Cubs win. Jones was known for throwing a sweeping curveball. The Chicago Cubs had acquired the tall right-hand pitcher from the Cleveland Indians. He would finish the 1955 season with a 14-20 won-loss record. He led the league that season in losses, walks, strike outs, and hit batters.

Jones led the National League in strike outs  in 1955, 56 and 58, he was an all-star during the 1955 and 1959 season. 1959 was his best with the San Francisco Giants going 21-15 with an ERA of 2.83. On May 3, 1952, Jones and veteran Negro League catcher Quincy Trouppe became the first African American battery in American League history.  Jones won 18 games with a 3.19 ERA in 1960, and afterwards his career began to tumble.

In 1962, he was diagnosed with neck cancer.  He pitched until 1967, his last three years with Columbus in the International League as a relief pitcher. He died from neck cancer in 1971.