Sad Sam's 22 consecutive seasons pitching in one league (the American) is a ML record shared with Herb Pennock
, Early Wynn
, Red Ruffing
, and Steve Carlton
. The native Ohioan was sent from Cleveland to the Red Sox in a 1916 trade for Tris Speaker
, who was in his prime. In 1918, Jones's first season in a starting rotation, he went 16-5 (league-best .762 winning percentage). He won 23 games for the fifth-place 1921 Red Sox, with a league-high five shutouts. But his finest seasons may have been 1923,
when he was 21-8 as the Yankees' ace, hurling a September 4 no-hitter against the Athletics and leading New York to their first World Championship. His relief work in the final game of the Series clinched it for the Yanks.
Bill McGeehan of the New York Herald-Tribune dubbed him Sad Sam because, to him, Jones looked downcast on the field. Jones told Lawrence Ritter that the reason he looked downcast was because, "I would always wear my cap down real low over my eyes.
And the sportswriters were more used to fellows like Waite Hoyt, who'd always wear their caps way up so they wouldn't miss any pretty girls." Jones' sharp-breaking curve also earned him the name Horsewhips Sam. Like most pitchers of his day, Jones relieved as well as started, and his eight saves in 1922 led the AL. He lost a league-high
21 in 1925 as the Yanks dropped to seventh. Waived from St. Louis to Washington in 1927, Jones rebounded to top the 1928 Senators' staff with a 17-7 record. His 15-7 finish in 1930 marked his last outstanding season.