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Mack Jones

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Mack F. Jones
(Mack The Knife)

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[edit] Biographical Information

"I admired Mack for his talent. He was tremendously gifted. He could hit with power, he had speed and he knew the strike zone." - Hank Aaron

Mack Jones played ten seasons in the majors, posting a good 120 Adjusted OPS+. With a home run off Nelson Briles on April 14, 1969, Jones hit the first ever home run in major league baseball in Canada - in fact the first ever hit outside of the United States.

Jones was signed by the Milwaukee Braves in 1958, and spent all or part of the seasons from 1958 to 1964 in the minors. During that seven-season stretch, he hit .306 in the minors and slugged .512. Most notably, he hit 39 home runs for Syracuse in 1964.

He came up to the majors originally in 1961, and spent most of 1962 and 1963 in the majors. He is listed as a regular outfielder for the Braves in 1962, although he also played 57 games in the minors for Toronto that year.

Beginning in 1965, he stayed up in the majors for the entire year. He hit 31 home runs that year, and when the Braves moved to Atlanta in 1966 he moved with them. He had been born in Atlanta, GA, so that made him a hometown player. Mack Jones got to play two seasons for the Atlanta Braves, but he made a bigger splash not only out of town, but out of the country.

After the 1967 season, he was traded to the Cincinnati Reds in a trade that brought Deron Johnson to the Braves. Jones would stay only a year with the Reds and then was selected in the expansion draft by the new Montreal Expos. He played quite well for the Expos in 1969, posting a batting line of .270/.379/.488. He, Rusty Staub and Ron Fairly were the top position players on the new team. He endeared himself to fans in the left field stands by hitting that historic home run in the Expos' home opener; that area in Jarry Park was quickly dubbed "Jonesville", and he was "The Mayor of Jonesville". He played reasonably well in 1970 but then slipped in 1971 and his major league career was over.

Mack's major league batting average over 10 seasons was "only" .252, but he played during the second dead-ball era so he was doing better than it appears. For instance, in 1969 when he hit .270, the league hit .250 and his team hit .240. In 1967 when he hit .253 the league hit .249 and his team hit .240. In addition, he drew walks well over the years of his career and was often among the leaders in hit-by-pitch. In 1970 when he hit .240 his OBP was .398, which would have been good enough to place in the league's top ten if he'd had enough plate appearances.

The obituary [1] for Mack Jones says that he went to Turner High School and played semi-pro ball before becoming a minor league player. After his playing days he coached youth baseball and football. He died in 2004 of stomach cancer.

The "ghost of Mack Jones" appears in the 2008 movie Un été sans point ni coup sûr; he comes out of the young hero's closet to give him hitting tips. The movie takes place during the Expos' inaugural season, at the time Jones became a huge star in Montreal and an idol to countless young boys such as the one portrayed in the film.

[edit] Notable Achievements

  • 20-Home Run Seasons: 3 (1965, 1966 & 1969)
  • 30-Home Run Seasons: 1 (1965)

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