Saturday, January 17, 2015

Mack the Bat

He had an auspicious debut, much like another kid from Atlanta, Georgia would have 50 years later.

One day after being recalled from AAA Louisville, Mack Jones collected four hits in his major league debut (July 13, 1961), including going 2-2 against Bob Gibson. A few games later, Jones went 3-4 with 3 RBI against the Phillies, bringing his hitting street to seven games to start his major league career. At the end of his rookie season, Jones had collected hits in 15 of the 28 games he had played.

The next two years saw 'Mack the Knife' split time between AAA and the majors; he spent the entire 1964 season at AAA Syracuse, where he posted some pretty 'sick' stats: .317/.413/.630, 14 doubles, 18 triples, 39 Homers, 102 RBI, 13 stolen bases. Apparently, that was enough to convince Braves management that he was ready for a full-time major league gig.

1965 Topps #241 Mack Jones

When given a chance to play full-time in 1965, Mack responded by hitting 31 homers- becoming one of six Braves that year to hit at least 20 HRs, which set a NL record. It would also be only time Mack had a full-time job in Milwaukee, as the Braves would move to his hometown just prior to the 1966 season.

In the final ever Braves home game at Milwaukee's County Stadium (9/22/65),  Jones homered off Sandy Koufax in the bottom of the 3rd to give Milwaukee a 5-1 lead. The Dodgers would rally to tie the game at six before it eventually headed to extra innings. The visitors would then take a 7-6 lead in the top of the eleventh, setting up drama for the bottom of the eleventh. With one out, Jones came to bat for the sixth time that day and promptly beat out an infield single. The next batter, Henry Aaron, lined out to center fielder Willie Davis, who would fire the ball back to first to double off Jones. And just like that, the Braves thirteen years in Milwaukee were finished.

Later in his career, Mack would be drafted by the Montreal Expos in the 1968 expansion draft and quickly became the first star of the new team. In the first ever Expos home game, Jones homered in his first at-bat- a 3-run shot off St. Louis' Nelson Briles- giving le Expos a 3-0 lead in the bottom of the first. In his next at-bat (bottom of the 2nd), Mack the Knife hit a two-run triple, giving the home town team a 5-0 lead. It would be the finest year of Mack Jones' big league career, as he hit .277/.379/.488 with 22 home runs.  So popular was Jones with the Montreal faithful that the leftfield bleachers at Montreal's Jarry Park was nicknamed 'Jonesville' after the lefty.

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