I was nine years old when Chipper Jones made his MLB debut for the Atlanta Braves. Looking back at that seems like ages ago. Yet, when the Braves were eliminated by the St. Louis Cardinals, helped by a terrible infield fly rule, it was the end of an era for the Braves and my childhood.
I never got a chance to see Jones play at a stadium. I was going to plenty of Chicago White Sox games and going to Comiskey Park at the time. I would never venture over to Wrigley Field to see that other team. So the chance of seeing Jones playing the White Sox was pretty slim.
Yet I still watched the Braves when they were on TV and I was always cheering for Jones. I remember sitting on my grandma’s couch watching the 1995 World Series and cheering for Jones. It helped that the Braves were playing the Cleveland Indians but I digress. When the Braves won I was so happy for Jones since he got a World Series ring.
I have always been a fan of baseball but my real memories of actually starting to care about baseball coincide with Jones. When I was younger I would always choose the Braves as my other team, the first being the White Sox. As Jones started to age, I started to realize what an amazing player he was.
Look at the numbers by Jones. He was ranked 31st among all time batters. He was an 8 time all-star. He is so far the only switch-hitter to have 2500 hits, 1500 RBI’s, 1500 runs, and 1500 walks. He is only the second player in all of baseball history to have a .300 average at both sides of the plate. The other player is Hall of Famer Frankie Frisch who lasted played in 1937.
Check out these numbers from the switch hitter. He had an on base percentage of .400, a slugging percentage of .500 and 400 home runs. Who is the only other switch hitter to have numbers like that? That would be Hall of Famer, Mickey Mantle. I don’t think that I will ever see another player like that for a very long time. I’m not going to say never because I’m sure that people said that about Mantle.
Jones finished his great career with 468 home runs, and 2,727 hits. Like I said, as I grew older I started to realize what an amazing talent and player I was watching.
As I was watching what turned out to be Jones last at bat I felt the kid in me start to cheer. I saw him hit a broken bat single and hustle down the line like no one else could. When the game was over a part of me left and left me forever.
Goodbye Chipper, your memories will last forever and I’m glad I got to see you play.