Andruw Jones saw longtime teammate Chipper Jones earn induction into the Hall of Fame last week after Tom Glavine, Greg Maddux, John Smoltz and Bobby Cox did the same.
Andruw is hopeful there’s room for one more iconic Brave from that era.
Andruw, 40, spent 12 of his 17 seasons in Atlanta. He earned 10 consecutive Gold Gloves and is regarded by many as the best defensive center fielder in recent memory. Andruw and Chipper became lineup mainstays, anchoring division title after division title with moving parts around them. They were the considered the pillars from 1996 until Andruw departed the Braves in 2007.
Chipper will be inducted into the Hall of Fame in July after receiving 97.2 percent of the vote. Andruw scraped by the five percent threshold to stay eligible at 7.3. He can stay on the ballot another nine years as long as he secures at least that percentage.
“I’m happy that I got a chance to stay on it,” Jones said. “Hopefully after a run, I can get recognized on my numbers. Hopefully I make it one day.”
Andruw remained optimistic and centered his praise on Chipper, whom he’ll be going to Cooperstown to see formally inducted on July 29.
“Well that was a matter of time,” Andruw said of Chipper as a Hall of Famer. “We knew that already. The numbers speak for themselves. The consistency that he had his whole career; it was a matter of time. I was happy for him to get the call – sometimes you might not get the call. So I’m very happy for him and I’m looking forward for him to go into the Hall of Fame in July.”
Andruw’s always valued their friendship. He recalled the first time he met Chipper in 1994.
“When he hurt his knee the first time, I saw him in spring training,” Andruw said. “We had instructional league. We talked a little bit. He said ‘You have great talent. Just keep working and you’ll be good.’ Since that I just followed him. I saw what he did. Get a chance to play in his first World Series in ’95 and a full season.
“It was just a matter of time until we got a chance to play together. And we did for a long time. We have great numbers together and I’m so happy to be part of a guy’s (career) who made it to the Hall of Fame.”
Chipper has been adamant that Andruw should join him in Cooperstown.
“What’s really been disappointing is the amount of support that Andruw has,” Chipper told the AJC. “Arguably the best defensive center fielder of all time. A decade of excellence -- that’s longevity. Ten straight Gold Gloves, 400-plus home runs. Yeah, you can say what you want about the decline and dropoff at the end of his career, but I think (his candidacy) at least deserves further discussion.”
That dropoff is largely the reason for debate. Andruw hit 428 homers, with 368 of those coming with the Braves. His numbers dipped after joining the Dodgers in free agency, after which he would also play with the Rangers, White Sox and Yankees, hitting .210 with 66 homers and a .740 OPS in the five seasons outside Atlanta.
Andruw was on-hand to see his friend Tim Hudson’s induction into the team Hall of Fame on Saturday night. He’s still around the organization as a special assistant to baseball operations, but reuniting with Hudson, Glavine, Smoltz, Brian McCann and others that night felt like old times.
“It’s always good to see old faces, guys that you played with and guys who’d been around you for a long time,” Andruw said. “I was just talking with Tim Hudson earlier and said what we liked about spring training was the first week, first five days when we’re excited to see everybody back and talk. After that it’s straight business and you’re getting ready for the season to start.”