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Willie Jones had a very under the radar career with the Philadelphia Phillies. He was average offensively, and despite his impressive glove at third base, he never caught a ton of national attention. He had a strong arm and great range at third, and even possessed decent power at the plate. He may not be the most recognizable Phillie, but he offered a lot to the team and is rightfully placed as a Phillies legend.

Jones first got professional attention in South Carolina while he was playing in the semi-pro Palmetto League. Phillies executive, Johnny Nee, liked what he saw from ‘Puddin Head’ and signed him quickly so no other teams could snatch him up.

After a couple seasons moving back and forth between the minors and the big leagues, Jones made a home for himself with the Phillies in 1949. That season he batted only .244, but flashed some power with 19 home runs, hit four doubles in a single game, and received enough MVP votes to come in 27th place.

The following season was the famous ‘Whiz Kids’ season of 1950. Jones was 25-years-old and strung together a solid year that included a .337 on base percentage, 25 homers, and 88 RBI. He batted .286 in the World Series, collecting four hits, including a double in the Phillies championship loss to the New York Yankees.

In his 13 seasons with the Phillies, Jones slashed .258/.343/.413 with a .756 OPS. He strung together 1,400 hits, 180 homers, and 753 RBI. Let’s take a look at his career achievements:

  • Phillies Wall of Fame
  • 2x All-Star
  • 1,614 defensive games at third base - 35th all time
  • 2,045 putouts at third base - 11th all time

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  • .963 fielding percentage at third base - 51st all time
  • Four doubles in a single game - Ties most all time
  • Most plate appearances in a single All-Star game - 7
  • 8 RBI in a game - Ties Phillies record

While Jones was an average hitter, it was his defense that kept him in the majors. He struggled early on in his career at third base, but worked tirelessly to make even the most difficult plays seem routine. He had a cannon for an arm, and impressive range thanks to his quick feet.

Jones led the National League in fielding percentage from 1952 to 1956 and then again in 1958. In his first two full seasons, he committed 52 errors overall. After 1950, he never had over 20 errors in a season again.

His career .963 fielding percentage is well above the .952 average at third base, and shows just how hard it is to play in the hot corner. The Gold Glove Award wasn’t given out until 1957, which was a little too late in his career to win one. He would have likely had some hardware if his prime lined up with the award.

After his time with the Phillies, Jones spent a short time in Cleveland, and then went to Cincinnati to finish the 1959 season. He stayed in Cincy for 1960 and played in nine games for the team in 1961 before his official retirement. 

Willie ‘Puddin’ Head’ Jones was an extremely popular player for the Phillies in the 1950s and was always knocking on the door of stardom, but never quite made it in. He was never the best player on his team, but showed consistency for his years in the big leagues and is honored for his contributions to the Phillies with a plaque on their Wall of Fame. 

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