SAN DIEGO – The crafty left-hander Randy Jones spent some of his best years in baseball toeing the rubber at Jack Murphy Stadium.
None were more celebrated than his 1976 campaign where he won a league-high 22 games and captured the National League Cy Young.
“I made 20 starts (at Jack Murphy) and I think I got 20 standing ovations,” Jones said. “Just going out to warm up and the people coming out to support me. Those are memories I’ll never forget.”
Jones, 71, grew up about 100 miles north of San Diego and was a fifth-round pick of the Padres in the 1972 MLB Draft. Like numerous kids in the region, he says he was chasing a dream of playing big league baseball, which he did the following year by landing in the team’s five-man rotation.
The upstart Padres struggled in the team’s early years, regularly finishing at or near the bottom of the NL West and losing at least 100 games four times in the first six seasons after joining the league in 1969.
Jones was a fixture in the Padres rotation during some of those years. He won seven games as a rookie and then led the league in losses the following year on a team that finished 60-102.
Soon, his fortunes started to turn. He won 20 games in back-to-back years, made two National League All-Star teams and captured the Cy Young in 1976. That year, he led all of baseball by pitching 315.1 innings — far more than league-leaders Justin Verlander (223) and Stephen Strasburg (209) did in baseball’s last full season in 2019 — in addition to tallying 25 complete games.
His 22 wins in 1976 remains the franchise’s single-season record. He’s thrown two of the three 20-win seasons in Padres history with the other coming from teammate Gaylord Perry in 1978.
But according to the New York Times, Jones suffered a detached bicep tendon in his last start of the season and it required surgery. He went on to pitch six more years after his Cy Young season, only twice eclipsing double-digit wins and never again finishing with a winning record.
He was traded to the New York Mets in 1980 and finished his career after the 1982 season with a combined 100-123 record.
“I’ve had some wonderful (times) and I wouldn’t trade my years for anything in the world” he said. “Maybe we didn’t make that much money in the ’70s and ’80s, but the people I played against and (met), I wouldn’t trade for the world.”
Jones remains the only Padre pitcher ever to start and win the All-Star Game. He was inducted into the team’s Hall of Fame in 1999.
“There’s always certain games and scenarios that you’ll never forget” he said.