ATLANTA (AP) — Andruw Jones, who won 10 Gold Gloves in a career that began with 12 seasons in Atlanta, became the 11th Braves player or manager to have his number retired on Saturday night.
The honor could add momentum to Jones’ case for the Baseball Hall of Fame.
Jones’ No. 25 was retired before Atlanta’s game against the Pittsburgh Pirates, and some believe the distinction was overdue. The center fielder played his last season in 2012 with the New York Yankees.
Of the 11 Braves who have their number retired, Dale Murphy is the only one not in the Hall of Fame. Jones received the fourth-most votes from the Baseball Writers’ Association of America in the 2023 election, getting picked on 58.1% of the ballots. It was a notable jump from 2022, when he was eighth with 41.4%.
A player must be selected on 75% of the ballots submitted to be enshrined in Cooperstown.
Jones played in Atlanta from 1996-2007, and others from that era to already have their numbers retired include Greg Maddux, John Smoltz, Tom Glavine, Chipper Jones and manager Bobby Cox. Murphy, Glavine and Chipper Jones attended the ceremony.
“I played 12 seasons in Atlanta and I only had one manager, Mr. Bobby Cox,” Andruw Jones said. “Bobby was a father figure who pushed me to become the best player I could be. Without him I would not be here tonight.”
The other Braves players to have their numbers retired are Hank Aaron, Eddie Mathews, Warren Spahn and Phil Niekro.
“To have my number retired next to Mr. Hank Aaron, No. 44, blows my mind,” Andruw Jones said.
Chipper Jones predicted Andruw Jones soon will join him in the Baseball Hall of Fame.
“Practice your speech tonight because I have a feeling you’re going to be making another one really, really soon in a small town called Cooperstown,” Chipper Jones said.
Andruw Jones was only 19 when he made his major league debut late in the 1996 season. Still a teenager, the rookie became the youngest player to homer in the World Series when he connected twice in Game 1 that year at Yankee Stadium.
He was selected to five All-Star teams and hit 434 career home runs. His best power season came in 2005, when he hit a franchise-record 51 homers to go with 128 RBIs. He compiled a .254 career batting average and .823 OPS.
Andruw Jones, however, was best known for his defense in center.
“It was unbelievable,” Braves manager Brian Snitker said Saturday. “You see the video of him moving before the ball is hit and things like that. Just such a talented guy, and durable. He was a guy who never came out of the blowouts. He played all the innings of all the games.”
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