Remembering Andruw Jones' World Series debut

Atlanta Braves CF Andruw Jones, 19, homered in his first World Series at-bat in 1996 and went deep next time up ... bumping Mickey Mantle from the WS record books. 

Atlanta Braves CF Andruw Jones, 19, homered in his first World Series at-bat in 1996 and went deep next time up ... bumping Mickey Mantle from the WS record books. 

CF Andruw Jones and Atlanta Braves president John Schuerholz are the newest inductees into the Braves Hall of Fame. 

Remembering Andruw on the big October stage ....


Originally posted Monday, Oct. 21, 1996


By Bob Elliott
NEW YORK _ Is that all there is? 

This is the best the American League has to offer? 

Andy Pettitte, acclaimed here as this season’s sure-fire Cy Young award winner, faced a grand total of 14 hitters, retiring seven - one a Braves’ gimmee on a sacrifice bunt. 

He couldn’t get out teenager Andruw Jones. Neither could reliever Brian Boehringer. 

By the time Pettitte departed, the Braves had collected five singles and the two-run homer by Jones. 

Not only did Jones help embarrass the Yanks in front of 56,365, some of them sober, by winning the opener, but he bumped Mickey Mantle from the record books. That’s a serious offence in the very offensive Bronx. 

“See you later Mickey Mantle,” Braves backup outfielder Luis Polonia said. “Andruw hit the first home run, sat down beside me and asked `What’s the record for most home runs in a World Series game?’ I said three and then he homered again. 

“He plays like he has been here for 10 years.” 

How would you have liked to have paid a scalper $1,000 for a ticket to see the Braves win 12-1? Yankees fans waited 15 years for this? 

With the second-inning homer, Jones became the youngest to homer in World Series history, bumping Mantle. An inning later, and roughly half an hour older, he was the second youngest when he hit a three-run bomb to left off Boehringer. He is also the youngest to homer in his first two World Series at-bats. 

Third time up, the bat died with honor, a broken-bat bouncer at Wade Boggs, the bat hitting Boggs in the shins for a third hit. 

Two dongs and five RBIs from a kid who hit .217 in 31 games for the Braves. Cy Young for Pettitte? Heck, he would fit right into the Cardinals’ rotation. 

No doubt scouting directors are dispatching troops to Curacao, an island in the Netherlands Antilles, where Jones hails from. 

A great World Series performer from a country governed by the Dutch. What next? A team owned by Belgians? 

Curacao rests off the coast of Venezuela. The island is 38 miles long, as narrow as two miles and as wide as eight miles across, with a population of 170,000. 

Pirates, not the guys from Pittsburgh, discovered the island and five years ago came the bold and the Braves’ international scout Bill Clark. The Jays were there too and offered more dough in fact. Ditto for the Marlins. 

Henry Jones, Andruw’s father, declined. He said he had given his word. He had shaken hands with scouting director Paul Snyder. Plus Andruw wanted to play for the Braves after viewing America’s Team on TBS. 

Obviously the sports agent business had yet to hit Curacao. Jones received a signing bonus of $46,000. The Jays did sign righty Diegomar Markwell, a distant relative, this summer for $705,000, a club record for a non-drafted player. Progress in the islands? 

Hensley (Bam-Bam) Meulens was the first from Curacao to make the majors, yet the third baseman went bust-bust in several tries with the Yanks. 

At the Braves’ first tryout camp, Andruw ran a 6.6 60-yard dash. His pop, Henry, 45, ran 7.16. 

Last year, Jones was at Class-A Macon. This season he spent 66 games at Class-A Durham, 38 at double-A Greenville and 12 at Triple-A Richmond before being fast-tracked to the Braves. He hit a combined .339 with 34 homers, 92 RBIs, stealing 30 bases. 

“He’s the best prospect since Ken Griffey, Jr.,” Snyder said when Jones was elevated. 

People accused the Braves of rushing the youngster. 

As a point of reference and to illustrate how Jones has come along so quickly, we asked several Braves what they were doing when they were 19. 

“I was at Oxnard junior college trying to get a team to look at me,” infielder Terry Pendleton said. 

“Class-A Florence, S.C.,” first baseman Fred McGriff said. 

“I was in the Instructional League after being sent down from Class-A,” relief pitcher Mark Wohlers said. 

    “Class-A Madison Wisconsin,” Luis Polonia said. 

“Class-D Tampa and struggling,” first-base coach Pat Corrales said. 

“Class-B Salem, worrying if I’d ever get a class-A contract,” manager Bobby Cox said. 

This game is not meant to be that easy. Even for the special ones. 

Whether he gets another homer or another hit, Jones has a special place in World Series history.

Bob ElliottComment