Here at WSBGM's we consider ourselves to be a fan-friendly blog and therefore I am going to share a story (received via email) with you from loyal reader and occasional commenter Burton.
My grandfather is a die-hard Braves fan. If he used the Internet, he would probably have his own blog and call it We Should Fire Bobby Cox. Anyway, for as long as I can remember he was a Braves fan, which, lead to my indoctrination at an early age. The other day, I found out that this was not always the case. From the 1940's through the early 60's, he was a true Phillies Phan. I never knew this, so I asked him why. He told me that he grew up and played baseball with an early Phillies All-Star, Willie Jones, and used to follow his career with the Phillies.
My grandfather grew up in Laurinburg, NC which sits on the border with South Carolina. He used to play baseball for his community when he was young, and for his high school later on. Willie Jones was born in Dillon, SC which is about 15 miles from Laurinburg. When they were both boys, they played baseball against each other, and eventually became good friends. My grandfather and his friends all called him "Puddin' Head". When they reached high school, they were both playing third base for their respective teams. Because they were good friends, they would try to hit the ball at each other just for fun. During one game, Willie hit a line drive right at my grandfather. My grandfather reached for the ball but could not get his glove around fast enough, so he caught the ball bare handed. The ball hit with such force that it broke the fingernails completely off his ring finger and his pinky finger. It also shattered all the bones in his pinky finger to the point that he was pulling bone shards out of his finger for the next couple of months. To this day, the tip of his pinky finger is completely flat. I had known that he had sustained this injury playing baseball, but I never knew that he received that injury from a future Phillies All-Star. They stayed in touch with one another while Willie worked his way though the minors, eventually signing on with the Phillies in 1947. My grandfather followed his career and was a loyal Phillies Phan until Jones moved to Cincinnati in 1959. My grandfather stuck with the Phillies until 1965 when the Milwaukee Braves moved to Atlanta, and my grandfather became a Braves fan.
Some Willie Jones Stats:
*Willie Jones made his debut with the Philadelphia Phillies in 1947. By 1949, the South Carolina native had become the team's starting third baseman. In his first full season at third, in 1949, Jones hit 19 home runs and drove in 77. He held that position for nearly a decade.
*In 1949, Jones tied a major league record when he had four straight doubles in a game. His fielding abilities were outstanding. He led the league with best fielding percentage in five years and he led the National League in putouts at third base for seven seasons. The feat tied the record.
*In 1950, Jones hit a career-high 25 home runs and was a key component of the Phillies' "Whiz Kids" that won the NL pennant. He also drove in a career-high 88 runs batted in that season.
*Jones is in the all-time top 10 for the Phillies in six offensive categories. He had six grand slams while he was wearing a Phillies uniform and is second only to Mike Schmidt for the Philadelphia franchise.
*Jones was an All-Star during the 1950 and 1951 seasons. In the 1950 World Series, he collected 4 hits in 14 at-bats.
*He finished his career with 812 runs batted in and 190 home runs and a career .258 batting average.