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Negro Leagues
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Negro Leagues Legacy

Stars of the Negro Leagues

Slim pitcher
Jones dominated Negro League Baseball for a short time
By Ken Mandel/MLB.com


Slim Jones gave up Josh Gibson's mammoth home run at Yankee Stadium.
Born: May 6, 1913, Baltimore
Died: Dec. 1938, Baltimore
Bats: Left
Throws: Left

Though Stuart "Slim" Jones dominated Negro League Baseball during a short, but brilliant career, he's perhaps remembered for what he once gave up.

Fans who have heard the story of Josh Gibson's legendary mammoth home run out of Yankee Stadium - the only player to ever accomplish that feat - should read about the left-hander who served up the belt-high meatball.

"In 1934, Josh Gibson hit a ball off Slim Jones in Yankee Stadium in a four-team doubleheader that we had there - the Philadelphia Stars played the (Pittsburgh) Crawfords in the second game; we had played the Black Yankees in the first game," said Jack Marshall of the Chicago American Giants in the Robert Peterson's book, Only the ball was white. "They say a ball has never been hit out of Yankee Stadium. Well, that is a lie! Josh hit the ball over that triple deck next to the bullpen in left field. Over and out! I will never forget that, because we were getting ready to leave because we were going down to Hightstown, N.J. to play a night game and we were standing in the aisle when that boy hit this ball."

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A towering 6-foot-6, 185-pound left-hander with a blazing fastball and sharp curveball, Jones, a converted softball player, broke in with his hometown Baltimore Black Sox in 1932. He didn't survive the whole season with Dick Lundy's team, but returned in 1933 and went 4-2. That winter, the 20-year-old Jones showcased his skills in the Puerto Rican winter league, fanning 210 batters, a harbinger of the brilliant season that awaited him.

Joining the Philadelphia Stars in 1934, Jones went 32-4, including a 22-3 record in league play, and pitched the Stars to the Negro League Championship Series, clinching the title with a 2-0 blanking of the American Giants. He capped off 1934 with a postseason exhibition win over 30-game winner Dizzy Dean and the World Champion St. Louis Cardinals.

In addition to serving up Gibson's blast, Jones was also part of what some have referred to as the greatest black baseball game of all time. Jones tangled with Satchel Paige -- again at Yankee Stadium -- in a 1934 game that ended in a 1-1 tie because of darkness. Jones allowed three hits and whiffed nine, while Paige gave up six hits and fanned 12.

Negro League great Buck Leonard who saw Jones pitch said the latter threw harder than Lefty Grove. Others observers claimed he also toss faster than Paige.

Jones never came close to matching his fantastic 1934 season, and in 1935 was already in decline. Though despite not winning a game by the East-West All-Star break, which he started for the East, the temperamental southpaw held out for more money. He floundered after getting his raise and finished 4-10 that season.

His struggles continued in 1936, and he went 6-4 over the last three years of his career as his powerful left arm began to fail him. During that time, Jones drank heavily, and that ultimately led to his death.

According to James A. Reilly in The Biographical Encyclopedia of the Negro Leagues, Jones asked for an advance on his salary in the winter of 1938. When that request was denied, he sold his coat to buy a bottle of whiskey. He then contracted pneumonia and died a short while later, at age 25.

Ken Mandel is a writer/editor with MLB.com. This story was not subject to approval by Major League Baseball or its clubs.