LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. — Andruw Jones, the greatest center fielder in Atlanta Braves history, and team president and longtime former general manager John Schuerholz will be inducted into the Braves Hall of Fame this summer.
Jones, 38, spent his first 12 seasons with the Braves, hitting 368 home runs for Atlanta and winning 10 consecutive Gold Gloves before leaving as a free agent after the 2007 season. He last played in the majors in 2012 with the Yankees.
“I’m very proud of this day,” Jones said Wednesday, the same day he began a stint as a guest instructor in Braves spring training and made his retirement official. “There’s so many guys that I played with and who played in the years before, and to be next to them is a very big honor. I’m blessed.”
Jones hit two homers in his first World Series game as a 19-year-old rookie, was a five-time All-Star, and was a National League MVP runner-up in 2005 after leading led the league with 51 homers and 128 RBIs.
Schuerholz, entering his 51st season in professional baseball and 26th with the Braves, was the team’s general manager throughout an unprecedented run of 14 consecutive division titles through 2005, which included four NL championships and the 1995 World Series title. He moved to his current role as team president in 2007.
“To join the quality of people who are already in the Braves Hall of Fame, I’m really honored,” Schuerholz said. “I’ve worked with many of them. I had something to do with getting some of them here, one of them this young man (Jones), who, when he was a 16-year-old in Curacao, signed with the Atlanta Braves. I watched Andruw’s career blossom into becoming as great as it was….
“There’s no better way for a baseball executive to be recognized and appreciated and honored than to be welcomed into his team’s Hall of Fame, and I’m proud of this.”
Jones said of Schuerholz, “He believed in me since he saw me the first time, so I’m very happy that he gave me the opportunity to chase my dream. It’s a big honor to be (going in the Braves HOF with him).”
Jones and Schuerholz will be inducted into the Braves Hall of Fame during an Aug. 19 luncheon, then honored that night during a ceremony at Turner Field prior to a game against the Washington Nationals. It will be the last HOF ceremony at Turner Field before the Braves move to their new ballpark in 2017.
“The organization is thrilled to welcome these two treasured members of our family into the Braves Hall of Fame,” said Braves chairman and CEO Terry McGuirk. “Both John and Andruw have had an incredible impact on this franchise, though in much different ways, and they are beyond deserving of this honor.”
Jones was a five-time All-Star who hit .254 with 434 home runs, 1,289 RBIs, 152 stolen bases and an .823 OPS in 17 major league seasons. He played two more seasons (2013-2014) in Japan.
He entertained thoughts of a comeback with a major league team this season, but Jones said last month he planned to announce his retirement soon. He did that Wednesday.
Jones made his major league debut in August 1996 with the Braves, and two months later hit two home runs in Game 1 of the World Series against the Yankees in New York. He became the youngest to hit a home run in a World Series game.
“I didn’t know I was going to be there,” Jones said. “Earlier that season I was just trying to win a championship in A-ball, in Durham…. (manager) Bobby Cox had a great idea – we were going to face the Yankees, they had a lot of lefties, and he took me with them.”
Schuerholz began his baseball front-office career with his hometown Baltimore Orioles in 1966, and two years later joined the fledgling Kansas City Royals. He spent 22 seasons with the Royals, who made him their general manager at 41, the youngest GM in baseball at the time.
The Royals won the 1985 World Series, and a decade later the Braves’ World Series title made Schuerholz the first GM of World Series teams from both leagues.
Schuerholz joined the Braves organization as GM in October 1990, and they went from worst to first the following season, winning a division title and advancing to the World Series. That started their run of 14 consecutive division titles with Cox as manager and Schuerholz as GM.
“The partnership that I enjoyed with Bobby Cox, and the collaboration that we had, made that easier,” Schuerholz said. “Here’s a guy who knew what kind of players that he wanted. We liked the same kind of players and we acquired them, we put teams together, and it worked out. It’s very difficult to do.”