According to the Major League record book, there have been 275 no-hitters pitched; seven this year. The Major League total does not include the no-hitters pitched in Negro League baseball. But it does include the one by Sam “Toothpick” Jones, the only former Negro League pitcher to throw a Major League no-hitter.Past feature articles, game summaries, and game box scores of African-American newspapers indicate there were at least 29 no-hitters thrown in Negro League baseball. Most notably there were two by Satchel Paige and one each by Hilton Smith, Andy Cooper, “Smoky” Joe Williams, and Leon Day; all Hall of Fame pitchers. The “invisible color line” that kept African–American ballplayers out of the Major Leagues was not erased until 1947 which was too late for these and other Negro League hurlers who were by then either dead or past their prime. But there were a few younger Negro League pitchers that got their opportunity in the Major Leagues; Sam Jones was one of them.
Jones pitched for the Homestead Grays in 1946 and the Negro League World Series runner-up Cleveland Buckeyes in 1947. He got his nickname from having a toothpick in his mouth while on the pitching mound. It was 1950 when the Cleveland Indians finally noticed the talented hurler that was in their own backyard, but he pitched in only 16 games with them in four years and was traded to Chicago Cubs after the 1954 season.
But it was on May 12, 1955 as a Chicago Cub that Jones pitched himself into the Major League Baseball record book with a 4-0 no-hitter against the Pittsburgh Pirates. It was a “Sam Jones” pitched type of game. He struck out six batters, walked seven, threw a Wild Pitch, and was helped with two double plays. In the ninth inning, he walked the first three hitters before striking out the final three.
Along with Don Newcombe and Sam Jones, who were the other former Negro League pitchers that played in the Major Leagues?