Playing for the Cubs on April 16, 1960, St. Paul native Walt Moryn spoiled Giants pitcher Sam Jones‘s no-hit bid with a two-out pinch-hit homer in the eighth. It was the only hit Jones surrendered in the 6-1 Giants win.
It was Jones’s second start of the season. In his first start, he only allowed three hits (again with the only run coming on a solo homer), meaning he only allowed four hits and two runs over his first 18 innings of the season.
As for Walt Moryn, a month after spoiling Jones’s no-hit bid, “Moose” made a dramatic shoestring catch for the final out of Cubs pitcher Don Cardwell’s no-hitter on May 15, 1960.
Sam Jones Notes:
Playing for the Cubs five years earlier, Sam Jones became the first Black pitcher in MLB history to throw a no-hitter, doing so against the eventual World Series Champion Pittsburgh Pirates on May 12, 1955.
Believe it or not, Jones played townball in Minnesota, back when teams could pay players. After getting a couple cups of coffee in the Negro American League in 1947 and ’48, Jones pitched for the Rochester Royals in 1949, no-hitting Owatonna on August 4 and Austin on September 7.
Jones wasn’t the only great Black pitcher playing townball in Minnesota in 1949. Remarkably, that was the same season former Kansas City Monarch Hilton Smith played for Dick Reusse’s Fulda Giants. Smith, however, was on the opposite end of his career than Jones, and mostly played first base for Fulda. He was inducted into the Hall of Fame in 2001, the same class as Dave Winfield, Kirby Puckett, and Bill Mazeroski.
In addition to his brief stints in the Negro American League (officially designated a “major league” in December 2020), Jones played 12 seasons in the American and National Leagues, with a string of five truly exceptional seasons with the Cubs, Cardinals, and Giants from 1955 to ’59. He led the league in strikeouts per nine innings four-straight seasons from 1955 to ’58, and led the league in strikeouts overall (and walks) in ’55, ’56, and ’58.
In 1959, he led the NL with 21 wins, a 2.83 ERA, and four shutouts, while again leading the league in walks. (His 209 strikeouts were second to Don Drysdale’s 242.) He came in second to Chicago White Sox hurler Early Wynn in Cy Young balloting, back before there was a separate award for the AL and NL. If you want to retroactively apply WAR to the situation, Baseball Reference calculates 5.7 for Jones, and 2.8 for Wynn. (Wynn, a 300-game winner, was the Twins pitching coach from 1967 to ’69.)
Walt Moryn Notes:
The 1944 St. Paul Harding graduate played parts of eight seasons in the majors, and was teammates with the likes of Jackie Robinson, Ernie Banks, Stan Musial, and Roberto Clemente.
He had three very good seasons with the Cubs from 1956 to ’58, over which he averaged 23 home runs and a 3.2 WAR. He was an All-Star in 1958.
Nice article. Good misappropriation of family time… ; )