Willie Jones


Whiz Kids All-star 3rd baseman and Phillies Wall of Famer

Search the list of the best third basemen in Phillies history, and the name Willie Jones is right there among the leaders. With good reason: He could field, he could hit, and he could throw. Willie Edward Jones had a long and distinguished career with the Phillies, extending from 1947 through 1959. His many memorable achievements during that time including being one of the star players on the 1950 team that won only the second National League pennant in Phillies history. Often called Puddin' Head, a nickname he was given as a boy which supposedly came from the 1930s song "Wooden Head, Puddin' Head," Jones was quick, strong, and aggressive. He was a strong hitter, and as a fielder, he had exceptional range, fast hands, and a powerful throwing arm. Pie Traynor, one of the great third baseman in earlier times and a member of the Baseball Hall of Fame, once said about Jones that "He's better than I was." The 6-1, 188-pound righthander was born in 1925 in Dillon, South Carolina, and raised in Laurel Hill, North Carolina. After high school, he joined the Navy and served for three years during World War II. Then he played semipro baseball and attracted scouts from numerous major league clubs. Jones signed in 1947 with the Phillies who gave him a $16,500 bonus. He spent two years in the minor leagues, joining the Phils at the end of each season. Jones became the Phillies starting third baseman in 1949. Over the next 10 seasons, he was one of the team's key players and one of the big leagues' top third sackers. Overall, Willie led National League third baseman in fielding percentage five times, in putouts seven times, and in assists and double plays each twice. During that time, he averaged 146 games played per season. In Phillies history, only Mike Schmidt played more career games (2,212) at third base than Jones (1,495). Because of extra games played in 1950, Jones played in all 157 games that season. "He's the second best third baseman I ever saw, right behind Brooks Robinson," Phillies pitcher Robin Roberts once said. Among Phillies third basemen, Jones' two All-Star selections are exceeded only by Schmidt (12) and Dick Allen (three). Jones ranks 10th on the Phillies all-time RBI list (753) and eighth in walks (694). Jones had numerous noteworthy achievements. From late in the 1949 season into early 1950, he hit in 23 straight games. He once hit four doubles in one game and hit 35 doubles one season. He slammed two or more home runs in one game twelve times. He reached double figures in home runs nine times. Twice, he slugged two grand slam homers in one season. He once banged an inside-the-park grand slam and collected eight RBIs in one game. In 1949, Jones played a role in one of the most legendary games in Phillies history, against the Cincinnati Reds when the Phils stroked five home runs in one inning. Andy Seminick hit two of them, and Del Ennis, pitcher Schoolboy Rowe, and Jones each hit one. Incredibly, Willie also smacked a triple in that same inning as the Phils romped to a 12-3 victory. During the 1950 season, when the team (nicknamed the Whiz Kids) won the pennant on the last day of the season, Jones was one of the club's star players. With a career high of 25 home runs, he hit 10 homers in one month during the season. He also set career highs with 88 RBIs and 100 runs scored. He wound up with a .267 batting average during the season and had the team's second highest batting average (.286) in the World Series. Jones, who then posted his career high batting average of .285 in 1951, wound up hitting 90 home runs at Shibe Park/Connie Mack Stadium, which ranked second behind Ennis's 133. During the 1959 season, the Phillies traded Jones to the Cleveland Indians for outfielder Jim Bolger and cash. Bolger played in 35 games and hit .083 before he was gone. Less than one month after going to Cleveland, Jones was shipped to Cincinnati where he ended his career in 1961. Jones, who passed away in 1983, finished his 15 years in the majors with a .258 batting average, 190 home runs, 812 RBIs, and 786 runs scored in 1,691 games. by Rich Westcott

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