New-York Historical Society's Bill Shannon Dictionary of New York Sports

Category Archives: J

Joan Joyce


Joan Joyce (Softball.  Born, Waterbury, CT, Aug. 1, 1940.)  Thought by many to be the greatest female athlete in U.S. history, Joan Joyce earned her largest fame in softball with the Raybestos Brakettes (Bridgeport, Conn.) as a pitcher and first baseman.  Joyce played for the Brakettes from 1954-73, earning all-America honors 18 straight years.  She helped them win 11 national championships, compiled a 509-33 record as a pitcher with 105 no-hitters, and batted .327 for her career.  Joyce was a three-time all-American in A.A.U. basketball, also playing volleyball and bowling at national levels.  At 35, she turned to golf and played 11 seasons on the L.P.G.A. Tour (1975-85).  Later, she became the softball coach at Florida Atlantic University.

Jim Joyce


Jim Joyce (Baseball.  Born, Toledo, OH, Oct. 3, 1955.)  A model of proficiency, James A. Joyce, III, became an A.L. umpire in 1989, when he was called up from the P.C.L.  Joyce has since worked the All-Star Game in 1994 and 2001, four division series, the A.L. championship series in 1997, and the World Series in both 1999 and 2001.  Joyce worked both an A.L. division series and the World Series in 1999 and duplicated that double in 2001.  He was the home plate umpire in the fifth game of the 2001 Series, won by the Yankees, 3-2, in 12 innings.  Joyce, who played baseball at Bowling Green (O.), is the type of umpire who rarely appears to be expending much energy, but he is almost always in the right place at the right time to make the right call.  One time he was not was June 2, 2010, in Detroit, when his incorrect safe call umpiring at first on what would have been the last out of the game cost Tigers pitcher Armando Galarraga a perfect game.

Lou Jorda


Lou Jorda (Baseball.  Born, New Orleans, LA, May 22, 1893; died, Largo, FL, May 27, 1964.)  In an almost unique circumstance, Louis D. Jorda had two tours as an N.L. umpire separated by eight seasons in the I.L. (1932-39).  Jorda came up from the Southern League to the N.L. in 1927 and worked until 1931.  Then, at age 46, he was rehired in 1940, starting another 13-season stint.  Jorda umpired in the 1945 and 1949 World Series as well as the 1941 and 1951 All-Star Games.  But his most historic assignment was later in 1951, when he worked the three-game playoff between the Giants and Dodgers for the N.L. pennant.  Jorda was behind the plate in the ninth inning of the third game when Bobby Thomson hit his famous home run.  He is also one of the three umpires in the celebrated 1949 Saturday Evening Post cover by Norman Rockwell, along with Larry Goetz and Beans Reardon.

Tad Jones


Tad Jones (College football.  Born, Excello, OH, Feb. 27, 1887; died, New Haven, CT, June 19, 1957.)  Brother of Howard Jones, the school’s first paid coach, Thomas Albert Dwight Jones became a successful Yale head coach.  Jones was graduated by Yale in 1908, becoming head coach at Syracuse (1909-10) for two seasons.  He was lured back to Yale in 1916 but did not coach the informal 1918 team during World War I.  Jones returned for eight more seasons (1920-27) and wound up with an overall 60-15-4 record.  His teams were 8-1 in 1921, 8-0 in 1923, and 7-1 in 1927.  The Bulldogs had a 16-game unbeaten streak (1923-25) before a loss to Penn in the third game of the 1925 season.  The 1923 team is considered one of Yale’s best in the 20th century.  His Syracuse teams were 9-9-2.  Jones, who later started a wholesale food company in New Haven, is perhaps most famous for having said, before Yale’s 13-0 win at Harvard Nov. 24, 1923, “Gentlemen, you are now going to play football against Harvard.  Never again in your whole life will you do anything so important.”

Sad Sam Jones


Sad Sam Jones (Baseball.  Born, Woodsfield, OH, July 26, 1892; died, Barnesville, OH, July 6, 1966.)  A righthander who was 21-8 for the Yankees’ first World Series champions in 1923, Samuel Pond Jones owed his nickname to W.O. McGeehan of the Herald, who called him “Sad Sam, Sorrowful Sage from Woodsfield” because of his dour on-field demeanor.  He gave up one earned run in 10 innings in the 1923 Series but was 0-1, losing Game 3 when Art Nehf blanked the Yankees and Casey Stengel homered for the Giants in a 1-0 game.  Jones was 229-217 for 22 years (1914-35) in the majors and 67-56 for the Yankees (1922-26).

Roy Jones


Roy Jones (Boxing.  Born, Pensacola, FL, Jan. 16, 1969.) No one knows more ways to ruin a fighter’s evening than Roy Jones. If an opponent wants to slug, he soon discovers that this champion arrives at work smuggling nitro in both gloves. Jones is also a superb ring strategist who often leaves even the most graceful boxers looking awkward and confused.  Fighting inside, he has proven himself a master counter puncher, able to throw damaging blows from almost any angle with uncanny precision. And he is about as easy hit as mist.  Widely considered the best pound for pound fighter of his generation, Jones has defeated the best boxers in three weight classes. He opened his career as a middleweight with a second round knockout of Rickey Randall in Pensacola, Fla., on May 6, 1989.  In that initial victory, Jones demonstrated skills that immediately excited the entire boxing world. Here was a middleweight who could hit like a heavyweight with either hand while displaying the quickness of a welterweight.  Jones was so impressive, he could have fought for a title shortly after starting his pro career. However, he was determined to polish his already formidable skills to a high luster before taking on a champion.  He waited until May 22, 1993, to meet Bernard Hopkins for the vacant IBF middleweight crown.  Early in that fight, Jones injured his right wrist while landing a heavy blow. He fought the rest of the evening virtually one-handed yet still easily outclassed his talented opponent to win his first title. On Nov. 19, 1994, Jones rose a notch in class to challenge unbeaten super middleweight champion James Toney. For the first and only time in his pro career, Jones entered the ring as a decided underdog. But, as Toney quickly discovered, this dog had fangs. Jones hauled out every weapon in his arsenal as he dominated the champion through 12 rounds en route to a unanimous decision.  Two years into his reign as super middleweight king, Jones was bored with the quality of his competition. No one in his division had enough skill to offer him a serious challenge. So he added more muscle to his lean frame and won the light heavyweight title from Mike McCallum on Nov. 22, 1996. Jones would suffer the only loss of his career on Mar. 21, 1997, when the referee disqualified him in the ninth round of a fight against Monteil Griffin. It was a controversial call. Jones was far ahead on all three scorecards at the time and had already knocked down Griffin twice. But in the ninth, Jones unintentionally hit Griffin as the challenger was crouched with one knee already touching the canvas. It was a clear rules violation. The referee had no choice but to award the fight and the light heavyweight belt to Griffin. In a rematch five months later, Jones proved the defeat was a fluke by knocking out Griffin in the first round.  Jones continued to amass easy victories over the next six years. However, this was an athlete who thrived on risk.  On Mar. 1, 2003, he won a 12-round unanimous decision over WBA heavyweight champion John Ruiz even though Ruiz outweighed him by 30 pounds.  With that triumph, Jones joined Michael Spinks as the only light heavyweight champions to ever hold the heavyweight title. – R.L.

Howard Jones


Howard Jones (College football.  Born, Excello, OH, Aug. 23, 1885; died, Toluca Lake, NY, July 27, 1941.)  Although he was to earn fame as the long-time coach at Southern California (1925-40), Howard Harding Jones learned both football and coaching at Yale.  Jones played for powerhouse Yale teams before his 1908 graduation, coached there in 1909, and became the first full-time paid coach at Yale in 1913.  Final decisions in 1909 were still made by the team’s captain and Ted Coy (q.v.) led the team to a 10-0 record, but Jones was the coach for $3,000 in expenses.  He served two years (1911-12) as an assistant but in 1913 was paid $2,500 plus expenses to be the head man.  Jones was 5-2-3 that season and was not renewed.  He had been head coach at Ohio State in 1910 and later served at Iowa (1916-23) and Duke (1924) before settling at U.S.C.

Homer Jones


Homer Jones (Pro football.  Born, Pittsburg, TX, Feb. 18, 1941.)  An athletic speedster out of Texas Southern, Homer Carroll Jones signed initially with Houston of the A.F.L. but was cut in training camp before the 1963 season.  A 20th-round draft choice by the Giants, Jones then joined them but landed on the taxi squad.  When Frank Gifford (q.v.) retired in 1964, Jones inherited his wide receiver spot.  He caught 214 passes for 35 touchdowns in six seasons (1964-69).  Jones led the N.F.L. in average yards per catch four straight seasons (1965-68) and had 13 touchdown receptions in 1967 in a 14-game season.  In 1966, he caught a 98-yard scoring pass from Earl Morrall against Pittsburgh, a Giants team record 40 seasons later.  He played in 1970 for Cleveland.  He is credited with inventing the spike, which he used to punctuate his touchdowns.

Cleon Jones


Cleon Jones (Baseball.  Born, Plateau, AL, Aug. 4, 1942.)  A sometimes-indifferent fielder who was once removed from a game for failure to hustle, Cleon Joseph Jones set a team record that stood for nearly thirty years by hitting .340 in 1969.  Probably the first genuine star ever developed by the Mets, Jones joined the Mets briefly in 1963 (six games) but spent most of the next two years in the minors.  In 1966, he became a regular in the outfield.  The righthand-hitting Jones (who threw lefty) became the most consistent hitter in the stretch drive when the Mets won the 1969 N.L. pennant and finished with the league’s third-highest average.  Jones was particularly torrid after July 30, when manager Gil Hodges removed Jones from leftfield during the second game of a doubleheader against Houston at Shea.  Though seemingly on the verge of stardom, he was dogged by minor injuries during much of his career (except for 1971, when he hit .319, sixth-highest in the N.L.) and was forced into a public “apology” by club chairman M. Donald Grant after an indiscretion led to his arrest.  Jones played 12 seasons with the Mets (1963-75) and 12 games with the Chicago White Sox before retiring in 1976.  He had a lifetime .281 average but hit .353 in his two N.L.C.S. appearances with the Mets.  In what proved to be the final game of the 1969 World Series, Jones claimed to be hit in the foot by a pitch.  The ball had rolled into the Mets dugout and Hodges produced a ball scuffed with shoe polish.  Plate umpire Lou DiMuro awarded Jones first base and Donn Clendenon followed with a two-run homer that cut Baltimore’s lead to 3-2.  Jones had a big double in the eighth inning when the Mets went in front with two runs and caught a fly ball for the final out in a 5-3 win.  The ball was hit by Baltimore’s Davey Johnson, later a successful Mets manager.  In 1975, Jones refused to be a defensive replacement in a game.  The incident probably cost manager Yogi Berra his job.

Charley Jones


Charley Jones (College basketball.  Born, Brooklyn, NY, July 17, 1975.)  Since 1948, when official records began, only eight men have led the nation’s major college players in scoring in successive years.  One of them is Charles Rahmel Jones of L.I.U., the national collegiate scoring leader in 1996-97 and 1997-98.  Jones came out of Brooklyn’s Bishop Ford H.S. in 1993 and went to Rutgers, where he averaged 13.9 and 13.3 points per game in two seasons before transferring to L.I.U.  After sitting out his transfer year (1995-96), the 6’3” guard sparked a Blackbirds team that led the nation in scoring (91.5) and ran to a 21-9 record.  He averaged 30.1 as a junior that year, setting an L.I.U. record with 903 points in 30 games, and earned the Haggerty Award as the best player in the New York metropolitan area.  In 1997-98, his average dipped to 29.0 (869 points in 30 games), but he still finished 2.4 points per game ahead of Earl Boykins (Eastern Michigan).  He was signed as an undrafted free agent by Chicago Jan. 21, 1999, but played only 29 N.B.A. games.

About This Dictionary

The Bill Shannon Biographical Dictionary of New York Sports is an open database of sports biographies maintained by Jordan Sprechman and Marty Appel. We welcome public and scholarly contributions and suggestions.

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A prolific author, wire service sports reporter, long time Major League Baseball official scorer, football statistician, sports museum founder, theatrical agency owner and public ... read more

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