Jones joins Braves reunion in Cooperstown

Written by: Craig Muder

They are reunions that only happen in Cooperstown – and only once every decade or so: Returning Hall of Fame players, current electees and the manager – all of the same dynasty and all at Hall of Fame Weekend.

In 2018, history repeated itself as part of the “Brave” new world at the Hall of Fame.

For a history lesson, go back to 1974, when Mickey Mantle and Whitey Ford were inducted into the Hall of Fame and former Yankees manager Casey Stengel was on hand to welcome them. Yogi Berra, inducted with the Class of 1972 and another member of those dynastic Yankees teams of the 1950s, was unable to attend due to his duties as manager of the Mets.

Then 10 years later, the Brooklyn Dodgers of same era celebrated the election of Pee Wee Reese and Don Drysdale, with Roy Campanella, Sandy Koufax and Duke Snider also in Cooperstown for the Induction Ceremony.

And in 2000, Sparky Anderson and Tony Pérez of Cincinnati’s Big Red Machine of the 1970s earned Hall of Fame election, joined on stage in Cooperstown by Johnny Bench and Joe Morgan.

With the election of Chipper Jones as part of the Class of 2018, six members of the 1990s Atlanta Braves are expected to return for Hall of Fame Weekend. Tom Glavine, Greg Maddux and John Smoltz – the mound trio that powered those championship clubs – will be joined by their manager, Bobby Cox, and general manager, John Schuerholz, for a celebration of a team that won an unprecedented 14 straight division titles.

“I can’t tell you what a pleasure it was to play behind those three pitchers (Greg Maddux, John Smoltz and Tom Glavine). It was a pleasure to come to work knowing we had an opportunity to win each and every night they took the mound,” Jones said. “I’m grateful to John Schuerholz and Bobby Cox every year for giving us a chance coming into Spring Training to achieve our ultimate goal.

Chipper Jones won a World Series ring in his first full season with the Atlanta Braves, in 1995. He's pictured above on the top row, second from the left. (National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum)

“For us to have our own little fraternity up there in a little piece of heaven in Cooperstown, New York, is something we should be very proud of because we did an awful lot of winning during the ‘90s and early 2000s down here in Atlanta.”

For Glavine, there’s no better place to celebrate than Cooperstown.

“We were able to win consistently because we had a good core of players that stayed together for a long time,” said Glavine, whose 305 career victories rank fourth on the all-time list among left-handers. “We always had a strong starting rotation anchored for years by three eventual Hall of Famers. But the organization also did a great job of developing players that came through our minor league system and eventually played major roles at the big league level.

With the election of Don Drysdale (pictured above, far right on the top row) and Pee Wee Reese (on the bottom row, to the far left) in 1984, the Brooklyn Dodgers of the 1950s celebrated a reunion in Cooperstown. (National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum)

“It's still hard to believe sometimes that we are in the Hall of Fame. For us to all end up in the Hall is so special.”

Glavine was the winning pitcher when those Braves teams wrapped up their World Series win, holding the Cleveland Indians to one hit over eight shutout innings in Game 6 of the 1995 Fall Classic. Glavine was named the World Series MVP, but it was Maddux – who would claim his fourth straight National League Cy Young Award that fall – who was considered the staff ace.

“Our confidence level was very high during those years,” said Maddux, who along with Glavine and Cox was elected to the Hall of Fame in 2014. “Even in Spring Training, we expected to go to the postseason. We might have a week here and there where we wouldn’t play good, but we knew after 162 games that we were going to win.”

And win they did. From 1991-2005, the Braves advanced to four World Series, qualified for the Postseason in every non-strike year and fielding six teams that totaled at least 100 victories.

Chipper Jones joins five other Atlanta Braves players, managers and executives from the 1990s, four of which are pictured above: from left, John Smoltz, Tom Glavine, manager Bobby Cox and Greg Maddux. (National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum)

Schuerholz built it, Cox ran it. Glavine, Jones, Maddux and Smoltz made it happen.

And now, every summer in Cooperstown, they get to relive it.

“When you get inducted, there’s so much going on that you don’t get to take the full experience of Cooperstown into play,” Smoltz said. “But now that we’re all here, it’s going to reunite us every year.”

And that makes baseball’s best weekend even better for the men who made the Braves.

“To share everything,” Maddux said, “and to realize that we all made each other better, it’s pretty special.”

Craig Muder is the director of communications for the National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum

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