Padres Hall of Famer Jones fighting throat cancer

After being diagnosed in November, 67-year-old's prognosis is good

Padres Hall of Famer Jones fighting throat cancer

Bill Center, longtime sportswriter for U-T San Diego, is an employee of the Padres.

Padres pitching legend Randy Jones is fighting throat cancer.

"I feel positive," Jones said earlier this week. "They caught it early. It's all in the throat and not in the lymph nodes. I'm beating this thing."

The 67-year-old member of the Padres Hall of Fame was diagnosed with throat cancer in November, and he has been undergoing radiation and chemotherapy treatments since Dec. 12 at Sharp's Hospital.

"I've completed 90 percent of my treatment," said Jones, who has been told by his physicians that the cancer is linked directly to tobacco.

"I chewed as a player," said Jones. "I smoked cigars most of my adult life. I started dipping eight or nine years ago. There's a link, it's all related. But I'm lucky because I've been told this is a low-risk cancer. Again, it's in my throat, right above my vocal chords.

"It's a tough grind, but I have to get it done. Food right now tastes terrible. I've lost 10 pounds. But I'm following orders. They tell me what to do and I do it. I'm on a 'keep it simple, stupid' program. I just say yes to all orders."

Jones was one of the Padres' first stars as a player from 1973-80, and he remains one of the franchise's most popular personalities among fans as well as past and current players.

The left-hander was the first Padres pitcher to win a National League Cy Young Award, as well as being the first Padre to start an All-Star Game. There would be noticeable spikes in attendance on nights when Jones pitched at the peak of his career.

Jones' primary weapon as a pitcher was a sinker that had even the best hitters pounding the ball into the ground. All-time hits leader Pete Rose once became so frustrated with facing Jones that the switch-hitter went to the plate hitting left-handed.

"All I ever wanted to do was get hitters out on as few pitches as possible," said Jones, who was known for pitching complete games in under two hours.

Jones' 1976 season is arguably the greatest ever by a San Diego pitcher. He was 22-14 with a 2.74 ERA in 40 starts. He worked 315 1/3 innings with 25 complete games. He also started and won the All-Star Game, won the NL Cy Young Award and finished 10th in the NL Most Valuable Player Award voting. Jones led the NL that season in wins, starts, complete games and innings pitched.

Those four marks also remain Padres single-season records.

Jones also won 20 games in 1975, when his 2.24 ERA led the NL. He finished second in the voting for the NL Cy Young Award and 10th in the NL MVP Award voting. He was also an All-Star in 1975 and picked up the save in the NL's win.

"Pretty good trick," Jones joked last summer. "I finished the 1975 All-Star Game and got the save, and started in 1976 and got the win."

No one else has achieved that double.

A fifth-round pick in the 1972 Draft out of Chapman University, Jones posted a 92-105 record with a 3.30 ERA in 264 games (253 starts) with San Diego.

Jones ranks second on the Padres' all-time list in wins. He ranks first in starts, complete games (71), shutouts (18), double plays induced (176) and innings pitched (1,768). He is fifth in career ERA and ninth in opponents' batting average (.256).

Jones was a member of the Padres' inaugural Hall of Fame class of 1999.

"My goal is to join the team in Peoria [Ariz.] in mid-March for the last two weeks of Spring Training," said Jones. "I told them to have my uniform ready. I'm looking forward to being back at my regular activities with the club by Opening Day."