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Andruw Jones takes his place among Braves’ greats

No. 25 is finally where it deserves to be.

San Francisco Giants v Atlanta Braves Photo by Matthew Grimes Jr./Atlanta Braves/Getty Images

Atlanta — It took way too long, but Andruw Jones took his rightful place among the franchise’s greats when the Atlanta Braves retired his No. 25 in a ceremony before Friday’s game at Truist Park. Jones was inducted into the team’s Hall of Fame in 2016.

“It blows my mind away. Not just guys that I play with, but being next to Mr. Hank Aaron is something that I will never forget,” Jones said. “It’s a great honor. Just a great honor by the Atlanta Braves to give me the opportunity to play this game that I love and now honor me with my number retired. It’s just one of those things that you don’t think about when you play this game. You want to play this game and make a career and go out there and win championships. You don’t think about someday you’re number will get retired. This is a great honor and I can’t be more happy than that.”

Jones debuted as a 19-year old in 1996 and played the first 12 seasons of his career in Atlanta. He won 10-straight Gold Glove Awards and is regarded as one of the best defensive centerfielders to play the game. Jones credited his teammates and his coaches for always supporting him and said that he wished that former manager Bobby Cox and coach Pat Corrales could have been there Friday night.

“I would have had Bobby Cox, or any other coaches that I had that meant a lot to me that helped me become the person that I am today. Unfortunately, Pat Corrales passed away a week ago. Pat meant a lot to me, to be honest with you. He started building me to be that center fielder that I became. He told me a lot, where to play, where to move. Then I took over after that and it made his job easier.”

Brian Snitker got an up close look at Jones early in his career when he made his debut with Danville. Snitker told a story of the first time former coach Glen Hubbard saw Andruw during spring training.

“I think it’s going to be a great honor, well deserved,” Snitker said of Jones. “I think his number deserves to be up there in those rafters. I remember the first spring training he came to. At that time we had like A, Double-A, Triple-A guys all co-mingled in. and the instructors stay on the same field and then we’d rotate groups. Hubby came in after one day, he goes, man, wait until you guys see the guy I had on my field today. That was Andruw.”

“I was with him that year in Danville, his first year with us. He’s just a great player. You look at the body of work and I think getting his number retired here and probably a Hall of Fame nod is in the not too distant future also.”

Snitker wasn’t the only one to speak highly of Jones Friday. During the ceremony, Chipper Jones and Tom Glavine both took to the podium to celebrate Jones’ career. John Smoltz spoke in a pre-taped segment on the video board. All three said that Jones belongs in the Hall of Fame.

“It got a little emotional to hear everybody talk about how great the player you are,” Jones said. “But the most thing is that great a person that you want to be. Because all this, the talent of playing the game, it go away. But being a great person is always going to be there. That’s all I wanted to do. I wanted to go out there and help my team win. Hearing those guys talk about it, it got emotional. But in their mind or in my mind, we got one more step to go to and hopefully it’ll happen one day.”

Now that his number has been retired, the Hall of Fame is the next goal for Jones. He has saw increased support in recent years and topped out at 58.1% in 2023 in what was his sixth year on the ballot. He is on track to reach the 75% threshold needed in order to gain induction.

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