Leaguer of the Month
Born: January 9, 1914 in New Roads, Louisiana
Ht: 5'9", Wt: 155
Batted right and threw left
Teams: Valley City Hi-Liners, Bismarck Semipros, Newark Eagles,
Washington Elite Giants, Baltimore Elite Giants, Philadelphia
Stars, Minot Mallards, Bismarck Barons, Japan, Mexico, Cuba,
A skinny, left-handed flinger, built like standout
Barney Brown, Jonas Gaines was considered a Major League prospect
even as he approached
grew up in Louisiana, and pitched for Southern University in
Baton Rouge in the early 1930s, then gained national attention
in 1933 by beating the Chicago American Giants, considered
the top Negro League team at the time. He was soon signed
integrated ball in North Dakota for the
the Bismarck Semipros.
Valley City in '34 at age 20, Gaines started his North Dakota
career by hurling a no-hitter versus New Rockford with 10 k's
and no walks. During the season, Gaines was treated rudely
by Jamestown's star Double Duty Radcliffe,
who belted homers in three different game against Gaines, including
a grand slam into the James River to win a July 4th contest.
Gaines learned quickly, though, and became an outstanding lefty
with good control, and was one of the few pitchers to beat Jamestown
during the season, beating the state champions, 4-3, outdueling
"Lefty" Thompson, formerly of the Kansas City Monarchs, and
allowing only a single hit to the "colored quartet" of Radcliffe,
Davis and Brown. It would take a commercial cleaning service to clean the bases with Gaines on the mound.
'35 and '36, splitting time between Valley City and Bismarck,
Gaines was comfortable as a second or third starting pitcher,
and rarely failed to complete games he started. One exception
occurred when he was scheduled to pitch against Satchel Paige
at Valley City, but got hit on his throwing arm by a Paige fastball
in the top of the first, and was out for a week.
1936, Gaines split time between the Valley City Hi-Liners and
Bismarck Semipros, posting a 6 win, 0 loss record on the mound,
with a total runs against average of 4.15--earned runs were
not always given in boxscores, but Gaines' '36 ERA is estimated
bat, Gaines batted .310 in 29 at bats found, committed only
one error in the field, and was called on to pinch run several
times because of his great foot speed.
In 1937, Gaines made the Negro Leagues with the
Newark Eagles, and soon was signed by the Baltimore Elite Giants,
a team he would stay with for many seasons. Gaines was part of
a great pitching staff with Baltimore, joining Bill Byrd and
Hall of Famer Leon Day.
had several 20-win seasons (including league and non-league
games) and was considered Big League material after Jackie
Robinson integrated the Majors, even though he was already
33 in '47.
a stint as one of the first
Americans to pitch in Japan, Gaines spent several successful
years in the minor, going 11-7 in two seasons with the Minot
Mallards (Man-Dak League) 16-7 with Pampa in the West Texas-New
Mexico League in 1954, and 8-3 with a 3.27 ERA for the '55
Bismarck Barons, a team that also featured Ray Dandridge
and Bill "Ready" Cash.
pitched in five East-West games, starting in '42, and posting
no decisions. In All-Star competition, Gaines pitched 11-1/3
innings without allowing an earned run and k'd 6. .
retired after the 1957 season, at age 43, after going 15-17
in two seasons with Carlsbad of the Southwestern League, finishing
his career with approximately 300 lifetime victories.