Chipper Jones says farewell, and looks to continue to carry the Braves in the playoffs.
Chipper Jones will go down as one of Major League Baseball’s all-time greats and has earned the respect of sports fans across the nation over his spectacular 19 year playing career. Chipper broke into the Braves starting line up on September 11, 1993 as the youngest player in the league, and had scouts across the MLB drooling over his sweet swing that produced power from both sides of the plate, his soft hands that vacuumed every ball hit at him, and his above average speed that he possessed just a year removed from ACL surgery.
Chipper Jones started producing like the Chipper that we all have come to know and love in the 1995 season when he led all rookies in RBI’s (86), runs scored (87), games played (145), plate appearances (602), at bats (524), and games started (123). Chipper also enjoyed his one and only World Series title with the Atlanta Braves in that magical 1995 season.
In the 1999 season Chip won the National League MVP becoming the first player in MLB history to hit over .300 (.319), hit 40 HRs (45), hit 40 2Bs (41), drawing 100 walks (126), driving in 100 RBIs (110), scoring 100 Runs (116), and stealing 20 bases (25). Chipper Jones was not only one of the greatest players during this time, he was also one of the greatest role models for children. In 2002, just two years after winning the MVP award, Chipper volunteered to give up his position at third base and move to left field to make room for incoming free agent Vinny Castilla. This gave people and children across the globe an example of how to play baseball the right way, putting the team first and individual wants and accomplishments second. Chipper would always hustle in-between the lines, stay out of trouble off the field, and speak educated to the media, which all added up to him being a great image for our youth and for Major League Baseball.
In 2006, at the inaugural World Baseball Classic, it was only fitting that the first American to hit a HR in the tournament was American icon and role model Chipper Jones. Chipper has always had a flair for the dramatic and stepped up on the global stage, going 6 for 17 with a double and two homers in the tournament.
In 2007, Chipper Jones recorded his 2,000 hit against the Cleveland Indians, and then his 400th double the next day in San Diego. In 2008, Chipper had one of the best offensive seasons Major League Baseball has ever seen from a switch hitter. Chipper knocked out his 400th career HR off the Florida Marlins, became the oldest switch hitter to win a batting title (36), tied a MLB record for most consecutive 20+ HR seasons to start a career (14), and was one point shy of the all-time switch hitter batting average mark set by Mickey Mantle (.365).
Chipper is still producing at the age of 40 as he is currently hitting .289 with 14 HRs and 62 RBIs which has teammates making comments like “he’s the reason why we are here…It definatly would have been a different vibe [in the ceremonies] if we weren’t going to the playoffs”- P Kris Medlen. It is obvious to see Chipper Jones has had a Hall of Fame career, but what makes Chipper Jones so special and in a league of his own, is how he represented the game of baseball for 19 years. Georgia Gov. Nathan Deal showed his thanks by making Sept. 28 “Chipper Jones Day” and Braves president John Schuerholz announced Jones’ clubhouse locker will be moved to Jones home in a gesture to show his thanks.
When I was 6 years old, I took a family vacation to Georgia and watched a Braves game in Fulton County Stadium where the Braves won and Chipper went 4 for 4. I fell in love with the Braves and the game of baseball on that day 17 years ago, and wrote this article to show my thanks to the legend: Chipper Jones.