Saturday, February 11, 2012

The Back Story: Sam Jones No-Hitter

The back of a baseball card is often filled with snipets of information about a player's career. But you can't tell the whole story with just a sentence or two. A newspaper can. With this in mind, I'd going to take a snipet from the back of a card and then find the rest or the story in the newspaper.

Google News Archives is filled with past issues of major city newspapers and small town rags. I've found it to be a great source for information and details that many websites miss. It should be a bookmarked site for any history buff.

Today I'll look at the no hitter thrown by Cubs pitcher Sam Jones against the Pirates on May 12, 1955.

The feat is mentioned on the back of Jones' 1956 card.
Here's a better look.

But that's only one sentence.
Baseball-reference gives us the box score.
But the newspaper tells us the story.

This is the front of the sports page of the Pittsburgh Post Gazette's May 13, 1956 edition. I got lucky here because the no hitter was against the Pirates and the Pittsburgh papers are well represented in Google News Archives. Many other big city newspapers, like the Chicago Tribune, are pay per view sites. But I can get the Pittsburgh slant on the news for free.

Below is a closer look at the article. You can either click on the picture for an expanded view or click here to go to Google News.

The front has a nice picture of Jones receiving congratulations from NL president Warren Giles. It must have just been a coincidence that Giles was in Chicago; the NL offices were located in Cincinnati at the time. The no hitter does have some historical significance; it was the first in the majors thrown by a black pitcher and the article does make mention of that fact.

It wasn't the prettiest of no hitters; Jones walked seven. In fact, he walked the bases loaded to start the ninth and manager Stan Hack said he was one walk away from coming out, no hitter or not. But Jones settled down and struck out the final three batters, the heart of the Pirates lineup which included Roberto Clemente and slugger Frank Thomas.

I do hope you go ahead and read the article. Without 24 hour sports coverage, nightly news highlights, and instant web updates, it was up to the papers to tell the whole story of the game. We get details in the story that a modern article skips. It's too bad that papers today aren't as detailed, because we end up losing that history.


  1. Love the old newspapers.

    Newspapers give you information/stories other media sources don't. Even today's newspapers, in which the stories may not be as long (because supposedly, "people don't have time anymore") provide information you won't see on TV, the web or anywhere else. I think a lot of people don't realize that web sites get a lot of their info FROM newspapers, so where would we be without papers?

    This ad brought to you by the Newspapers Guild of America, and a guy who wants to keep his job.

  2. It is also a lot of fun to look at the ads and see what they were selling back then.