When you first picked up a baseball as a child, whoever introduced the game to you did so because they thought you would enjoy it—something that you would love because of the happiness it brought you. That is the game of Baseball’s ultimate purpose.
Too much in this day of hyper-criticized athletes do we lose sight of that purpose. Controversy sells newspapers and winning puts asses in the seats, so baseball disintegrates into a cutthroat trade to be sliced to shreds by the media. We constantly attack players for not living up to expectations that were set for them by people who couldn’t dream to reach those levels of excellence. We expect our players to be soldiers. We expect them to be robots—when they are players.
Throughout his career, Andruw Jones has been the subject of that negativity. The major reason why? Because Jones plays the game the way it was originally meant to be played—with a smile on his face.
To some people, playing with a smile means you’re not playing right. Terence Moore, a writer who covered Andruw Jones for the Atlanta Journal Constitution for Jones’ entire Atlanta career, wrote an article recently for MLB.com, about how “sad” Jones’ MLB career was, having signed with the Rakuten Eagles this offseason. Here’s a quote from Moore:
“Jones is only assured of joining the inaugural class of the Hall of Fame of Disappointment.”
—Take a moment if you need to recover from how nauseatingly corny that line was—
Here’s a few accomplishments the committee at the “HOF of Disappointment” might inscribe on Jones’ plaque:
- 5× All-Star (2000, 2002–2003, 2005–2006)
- 10× Gold Glove Award (One of six OF with 10+—Willie Mays, Roberto Clemente, Al Kaline, Ken Griffey Jr., Ichiro)
- One of four players (Mays, Griffey, Mike Schmidt) to hit 400+ homers and win 10 Gold Gloves (Note: Al Kaline came one homer short of this club)
- One of four players (Alex Rodriguez, Griffey, Mays) to win a Gold Glove and hit 50 homers in the same year
Disappointing enough for you?
As a counter to the sour old Moore’s haughtiness, here is my own tribute to Andruw Jones—the gloves that he lit up highlight reels with throughout his career.
For most of his time with the Braves, Jones wore a Wilson A2000 1955 (discontinued) just like you see below.
Here he is in ’97, just 20 years old, with an early version of the A2000 1955:
And in ’98, with the same glove, just with the Wilson logo photoshopped out:
Here in ’99 with 2013 Rockies manager Walt Weiss. Same model, new glove and updated Wilson logo:
The particular glove below (with the dial fitting system) was worn from ’02-’04:
Jones would wear the 1955 with the dial fit through 2006 (in brown that season).
Today’s most similar glove to Jones’ discontinued model is the Wilson A2000 ELO.
Switching to Mizuno in 2007, Jones’ Mizuno GCP86X had the same web style, the single post ladder web:
You can see in the photo with Manny above that Jones wore the GCP86X with the Dodgers, as well as the Rangers in 2009, White Sox in 2010 and Yankees up until the end of last season below:
The Mizuno GCP86X is still being produced in a coffee-colored leather.
Its no wonder every pitcher on the Braves in those days was a stud. That ball had no business being caught.
I wish there were more highlights of Jones’ plays, if anyone finds some, please let me know. He was a REGULAR “Web Gem” on Baseball Tonight back in the day, and I just can’t seem to find anything that will do him justice online.