By Glen Sparks
Well, it wasn’t like Ross Stripling was pitching a perfect game.
By the time Dodgers manager Dave Roberts pulled Stripling from Friday’s game with one out in the eighth inning, the Los Angeles starter already had walked four San Francisco Giants hitters. But, the 6-foot-3-inch right-hander did have a no-hitter going. Could he keep it up and toss a no-no in his first major-league game? That doesn’t happen every century.
Only one pitcher has thrown a no-hitter while making his debut. Charles “Bumpus” Jones did it when Benjamin Harrison was president of the United States, and Queen Victoria still ruled England.
Jones started at home for the Cincinnati Reds on Oct. 15, 1892, against the Pittsburgh Pirates. The 22-year-old right-hander was a local guy. He hailed from Xenia, less than 60 miles from Cincinnati.
The first batter walked. So, did the second batter. Jones, though, wiggled out of this early jam. A few innings later, he found himself in another one. Pittsburgh scored an unearned run in the fourth inning on a walk, a stolen base and a Bumpus error. It looked like Jones might get an early hook.
Then, he got into a groove. He still had not given up a hit, and he didn’t give one up over the final six innings. The Reds beat the Pirates 7-1. Bumpus walked four and struck out three.
Fast forward to May 6, 1953. Alva Lee “Bobo” Holloman threw a no-hitter for the St. Louis Browns with just 5.1 innings and a handful of relief appearances under his belt. Manager Marty Marion sent Holloman to pitch his first start, against the Philadelphia A’s.
Good defense helped Bobo. So, too, did the humid night in St. Louis. Several Philadelphia flyballs lost their fight to the thick Midwest air. One A’s hitter reached on a Holloman error. Bobo also walked five, including three in the ninth inning. The rookie held on, though. The Browns won 6-0.
Unfortunately, neither Holloman nor Jones fared well after their big games. Bumpus won just one more game in the major leagues, and it was quite an improbable win at that. He somehow got the “w” on June 18, 1893, despite walking six and giving up 12 runs. Fortunately, the Reds scored 30 times against the Louisville Colonels.
Cincinnati had taken a 14-0 third-inning lead. Bumpus was summoned from the bullpen to give starter Elton Chamberlain a rest. Chamberlain still had not pitched the minimum five innings to qualify for a win. Bumpus held the lead, but, really, no lead was safe with this wild-armed, one-game sensation.
Jones’ big-league career lasted two seasons. He split his 1893 campaign between Cincinnati and the New York Giants. Bumpus pitched a total of eight games in the majors, started seven and went 2-4 with a 7.99 ERA in 41.2 innings.
Holloman, meanwhile, did not even make it to a sophomore season in the majors. He finished 3-7 in 1953 and posted an ERA of 5.23. Bobo pitched 65.1 innings in the majors. Arm problems did him in.
Let’s hope Stripling enjoys a much longer career than either Bumpus or Bobo. The Dodgers drafted him in the fifth round out of Texas A&M in 2012. He is still building up arm strength following Tommy John surgery in 2014.
Following Friday’s game, Roberts and Dodgers pitching coach Rick Honeycutt said Stripling had started to lose command in his final inning. His fastball also had lost some of its life. Hayes Stripling, Ross’s dad, agreed with Roberts’ call. (Stripling left the game with one runners on base and with the Dodgers ahead 2-0. Reliever Chris Hatcher promptly gave up a two-run home run. The Giants won 3-2 in 10 innings.)
Hayes, with tears in his eyes, thanked the skipper afterword for taking care of his son’s still-mending right elbow.
By Glen Sparks
“Bumpus” Jones peaked early.
The 22-year-old right-hander made his big league debut on Oct. 15, 1892, in Cincinnati. It was the last day of the regular season, the last time the pitcher’s box would be just 50 feet from home plate. Bumpus started for the Reds against the Pittsburgh Pirates.
Jones, undoubtedly nervous, walked the first two batters he faced. He got out of the inning, though, and wiggled his way out of another jam in the second. Pittsburgh scored an unearned run in the third on a walk, a stolen base and a Bumpus error. Then, Charles Leander “Bumpus” Jones started to cruise. He still had not given up a hit, and he didn’t give up one in the final six innings. The Reds beat the Pirates 7-1 on Bumpus Jones’ no-hitter in his first game in the majors. Bumpus walked four and struck out three.
The fans cheered for their hero, a product of nearby Xenia, and Reds owner Charles Comiskey scheduled his sensation for a nifty postseason tour. He wound up and fired in front of crowds of 1,000 and 2,000 fans.
Then, the Tale of Bumpus Jones took a tricky turn. The 1893 season began, the mound was moved back to its current 60 feet, six inches, and a local newspaper reported that Bumpus was suffering from those dreaded “kinks” in his arm. Bumpus Jones was never the same.
Bumpus only won more game in the major leagues, and it was quite an improbable win at that. He somehow got the “w” when he walked six and gave up 12 runs. Fortunately, the Reds scored 30 times and held the Louisville Colonels to a dozen (all charged to Bumpus). Cincinnati had taken a 14-0 third-inning lead, and Bumpus was summoned from the bullpen to give starter Elton Chamberlain a rest. Chamberlain still had not pitched the minimum five innings to qualify for a win. Bumpus held the lead, but, really, no lead was safe with this wild-armed, one-game sensation.
In 28.2 innings with the Reds in 1893, Bumpus Jones gave up 37 hits and 23 walks. He struck out just six batters. His ERA zoomed up to a mountainous 10.05. He pitched in six games, started five and, incredibly, finished two.
By the middle of July, Bumpus Jones was an ex-Red. The New York Giants took a chance on the still-young hurler. Could Jones re-gain some magic in the Big Apple? It was not to be. In his first game, versus the Cleveland Naps on July 14 against the great Cy Young, Bumpus walked 10 and gave up six runs. And, that was that. Bumpus Jones never pitched again in the major leagues.
Baseball still beckoned. Bumpus pitched in the minor leagues, often with great success, for the next several seasons. One year, he went 27-13. He pitched for teams such as the Sioux City (Iowa) Cornhuskers, the Grand Rapids (Mich.) Gold Bugs and the St. Paul (Minn.) Apostles.
Bumpus Jones died June 25, 1938, following a stroke. His headstone in Cederville, Ohio, is marked that he was a “no-hit” pitcher. And, so he was. On Oct. 15, 1892, Bumpus Jones had his day.