Sep 30, 2011

Jonesin' for the Whiz Kids

A vintage card collector, I am not. Instead I would characterize myself as a fortuitous accumulator of well-cared cards of a bygone era. As a self-proclaimed Phillies collector, you would think that I have wide array of cards from all eras, but that is not actually the case.

I only started my Phillies collection when I started this blog because that's all I thought I'd ever blog little the me of the past can understand the me of the present. Of course, if the me of the present decided to consult with the me of past to influence the me of the future, then the me of the future would feel like he was being teamed up on and try and change the future before he became the present and was moved into the past before his time.

That is to say, it's always refreshing to discover players who had played for the Phillies for a long time before my living memory. Enter the discovery of Willie Jones. He played for the Phillies from 1947-1959, right in the sweet spot of the rise of the Whiz Kids and the development of the golden age of baseball cards. A two-time all-star and probably the best fielding 3rd baseman of the 1950s in the NL who somehow picked up the charming moniker of Puddin' head.

I guess after acquiring the three cards below I will attempt to be a Willie Jones master collector.

1951 Bowman Willie Jones: His facsimile autograph reveals the nickname in all its glory as his portrait is stationed under a light tower of that era.   The uniform is a classic, pin-striped and blue-starred, and is the uniform on which the current Phillies one is based.   This was a commemoration of the Whiz Kid season of 1950 where the Phillies won their 2nd all-time pennant.  Jones chipped in with 100 runs, 25 HR, 88 RBI, and .267/.337/.456 line (108 OPS+) along with league-leading putouts and assists totals at third base.

This card is in the best condition by my eyes; the corners are almost sharp.  There is no paper loss anywhere on the card and it remains frozen in time.
1952 Bowman Willie Jones: The 1952 version of this card is not as memorable looking as the 1951 version.  There is no Puddin' Head mention, and the cap logo barely is visible.    The road uniform is on display here and the stars are red.   Jones did have a letdown from the 1950 season and had probably his best hitting season in 1951. He had 79 runs, 22 HR, 81 RBI and had a .285/.358/.470 line (122 OPS+).  He also led the league in sacrifice hits and it was the only season he didn't finish first in putouts from 1949-1956.
1954 Topps Willie Jones:  The 1954 Topps card showcases Phillies pedestrian team logo of the era.  The two images of Puddin Head are also shown.   It's interesting that the baby blue color that Topps chose would be a prominent part of the Phillies uniform 25 years later.   The 1953 season was his worst to date in his career, hitting .225/.342/.385 (90 OPS+) with 61 Runs, 19 HR, and 70 RBI.  His plate discipline was stellar though, with 82 BB vs 42 K.  As always, he was among the leaders in all the fielding categories for 3rd baseman.

Jones continued playing from the Phillies until 1959 when he took a Piazza like journey to Cincinnati thru Cleveland and then retired early in the 1961 season after his release from the Redlegs.

I guess it's time for me as a present Phillies fan to appreciate a past Phillies' career and start collecting his cards to know their place in team history.

1 comment:

Hackenbush said...

Thanks for sharing Puddinhead. Have you started your Del Ennis collection yet?