17 Jul Getting to Know Atlanta Braves Third Baseman Chipper Jones
NEWLY INDUCTED HALL OF FAMER ATLANTA BRAVES THIRD BASEMAN
GETTING TO KNOW
by Ari Hirsch
The first overall pick by Atlanta in 1990, Chipper Jones was an eight-time All-Star, as well as the NL MVP in 1999. The Braves won the World Series in 1995, Jones’ rookie season.
In 2,499 games played, he finished with a .303 batting average, 468 home runs, 1,623 RBI, 2,726 hits, 1,512 walks, 1,409 strikeouts and a slugging percentage of .529. Jones has the most career RBI for a third baseman and is the only switch-hitter in history with a .300 average and 400 home runs. He spent his entire 19-year MLB career and all 23 years as a professional baseball player in the Atlanta organization. On January 24, 2018, he was elected to the National Baseball Hall of Fame in his first year of eligibility. Jones was named on 97.2 percent of ballots cast, easily surpassing the 75 percent needed for induction. He joins a Hall of Fame class that includes Vladimir Guerrero, Jim Thome and Trevor Hoffman. Sunday, July 29th, Chipper will be inducted into the HOF.
Name: Larry Wayne Jones Jr.
Nick Name: Chipper ( He was nicknamed Chipper when he was young because he looked like a chip off the old block.)
Born: April 24, 1972 (age 46) in DeLand, Florida
MLB debut: September 11, 1993, for the Atlanta Braves #10
Last MLB appearance: October 3, 2012, for the Atlanta Braves
Home Runs against the NY Mets : There was no place outside of Atlanta that Jones did more damage than Shea Stadium. He hit 19 homers at Shea — six more than he did at any other visiting park — and three more at Citi Field. And there was no team Jones hit more home runs against than the Mets, going deep 49 times in his career.
Married: 3 Times
Children: Four sons, Matthew, born in 1997.Larry Wayne Jones III (Trey), born in 2000, Shea, born in 2004, Tris, born in 2005.
Hobbies: Avid hunter and playing golf
Growing up who was your biggest influence? A: Definitely my father.
How much did he help you as a hitter during your time with the Braves? A: He was my hitting coach. All of our hitting coaches we had in Atlanta knew that. It’s no disrespect to any of them. They were great people and instructors. But unless you’ve seen me from day one, there are certain things you might miss. Dad didn’t want to be around, and quite frankly, I didn’t want him around for fear of resentment. But at the beginning of each season with a new hitting coach, it was important to get them together and have some talking points. What are you most proud of about your baseball career? A: It would have to be our team sustaining excellence for so long, 14 straight years of going to the postseason. A lot of that has to do with [former manager] Bobby Cox drafting and developing good players, and [former GM] John Schuerholz continuing to give us talent on a yearly basis. While we dropped off at the end, we were still in the hunt for the playoffs. To play 19 years and make the playoffs as many years as we did, it’s a proud feeling to know while I was there, we had a chance to win a World Series.
With the exception of teammate John Rocker, you were probably the most hated opposing player the borough of Queens has ever known, Everybody in New York always knew you as a Mets killer. How did that happen? A: I really enjoyed playing on that stage. My dad always said when I was a little kid: If you can be successful on that stage, you can be successful anywhere. Once you go up there and do something special on that big a stage, you do have the confidence to be able to go elsewhere and do the same thing. I think the New York Mets was the closest thing to a rivalry I had when I was playing in Atlanta. Both teams were pretty evenly matched in the late ’90s and early 2000s. It took some growing up on my part, learning how to handle it up there in New York, but once I did that and went through the fundamental change I was trying to make, we started getting along. I started wandering out of my hotel room and walking down
the street, interacting with fans of both fan bases. I loved New York so much that I named one of my sons Shea.
Only two switch-hitters are in the .400-.500-400 Club. One is Mickey Mantle. The other: Chipper Jones. How does that feel? A: I think, coming up, I knew what the standard was. I knew that Mickey Mantle and Eddie Murray were the two best switch-hitters of all time. My fathers favorite ball player was Mickey Mantle. While I never expected to hit 468 home runs in my career, the goal was still the same. I wanted to be mentioned, when I was done playing, if not with those two guys, then right behind them. And as I got bigger and stronger and more mature mentally in my game, the numbers just kind of piled up. I was able to play a long time.It was a lot of fun.
Who was the toughest pitcher you ever faced?
A: I faced a lot of great pitchers, but if I have to say one it would have to be Roger Clemens. He could put the ball wherever he wanted. He was really great.
You missed almost 250 games over your last eight seasons with various injuries, yet you kept playing until age 40. What kept you going? A: Ultimately, at the end of my career, I was having fun with the guys I played with. I enjoyed getting to the ballpark at 2 o’clock and shooting the breeze with them. That fraternity-type atmosphere was relevant. I can’t say all those previous teams I was on were like that. In the middle of the 2010 season, I woke up with a bad knee in Minnesota, and I didn’t want to play anymore because I was playing like crap. I had lost some of my desire. I was also struggling in my second marriage, which probably contributed to that. Bobby gave me three days off to think about things. I came back playing and got hot at the plate, started having fun again. Then I blew out my knee in August and it was Bobby Cox’s last year. I didn’t want everybody’s last image of me to be hobbling off the field with a torn ACL in Houston. Those last two years, I had the most fun I ever had playing the game because of the makeup of the ball club.
What was your relationship like with manager Bobby Cox? A: One of my favorite people on the planet. He was like a grandfather figure, who I always loved to hear stories from. I was very lucky to be managed by Bobby.
So you didn’t think about playing one or two more seasons, maybe to try to get to 500 home runs and 3,000 hits?
A: A lot of people ask if I regret not going after 500 homers or 3,000 hits. I still had the skill set to get to those numbers. To be what I feel might be the last National Leaguer to achieve those numbers would have been pretty awesome. But you have to weigh whether sticking around to reach those numbers is worth your team or organization suffering because of it. I didn’t want people thinking I was hurting the ballclub or being selfish. I wasn’t about to start being that way at
What do you want to be remembered for? A: I want to be remembered as a ball player. I want people to know that I did it the right way