Total recall: Former Braves hitting coach Clarence Jones

Batting coach Clarence Jones (left) talks with Braves outfielder Jermaine Dye  during training camp in 1997. (File photo)



Batting coach Clarence Jones (left) talks with Braves outfielder Jermaine Dye  during training camp in 1997. (File photo)

When longtime hitting instructor Clarence Jones was with the Braves, it was easy to find him during batting practice. Jones would stand right behind home plate and the netting, leaning one arm against the cage.

There, he turned young talents such as David Justice, Ron Gant, Chipper Jones and Andruw Jones into big time major league stars.

“It was a great run,’’ said Jones, who was the team’s hitting instructor from 1989-98. “A lot of good talent went through this place and I always enjoyed it here. Bobby Cox and the Braves made it very easy for me to do my job.’’

In 1995 when the Braves won it all against Cleveland in the World Series, the club did not have one of their better seasons at the plate, hitting just .250. But in the strike-shortened season, they hit 168 home runs and had the league’s best ERA at 3.44, well ahead of the Los Angeles Dodgers who finished at 3.66.

“That was a strange season because of the shortened spring training,’’ said Jones. “I do think that hurt the hitters more than anything. But that was a season where we didn’t have to score as many runs because of our pitching.’’

Jones’ best hitters for average on that team were Javier Lopez and Ryan Klesko, who hit .310 and .315, while Fred McGriff hit 27 homers, David Justice 24 and Chipper Jones and Klesko each had 23. But like Jones, now 73, retired and living in north Georgia said, “It was that one hit by Justice (in Game 7 of the World Series) that got us the ring.’’

Q. Why do you think David Justice was such a good clutch hitter?

A. "There was always something special about David. Whenever we needed something to happen, he would come through for us. That says a lot about the type of player he was.''

Q. You went to four World Series and won one. What was special about the ’95 team?

A. "I think it was one of those situations where it was time for everything to come together. We had it all that year. The pitching was really, really good and while we hit better in other years, we had a lot of clutch hits that season."

Q. Since you retired, the job of hitting instructor has really changed.

A. "It sure has. Back then it was just for the Braves and the big league club. Now they seem to have several coaches that are working with the hitters. That would not have been a bad thing to have back then.''