On Sunday when the Braves play the Red Sox, Chipper Jones, one of the best and classiest players of the past 25 years will take the field at Fenway for the final time. Although the Red Sox and Braves are in different leagues, the Red Sox have faced Jones and the Braves quite a bit over the last 15 years, as a the Red Sox-Braves interleague matchup was a regular occurrence.
Chipper Jones has been in the Majors regularly since 1995 when he came up with the Braves. Jones career batting average is just over .300 with 454 homeruns, 1585 RBI’s and 149 stolen bases. His numbers along with his longevity in the majors makes him a most likely first-ballot hall of famer. He’s been a player unlike most, first off the fact that he’s only played for one team in his 18 year career is almost unheard of in this era of professional sports.
Along with staying with the Braves organization the entire time, Chipper has been a very like-able guy. I know I’ve never heard anybody say they hated Chipper Jones, nor have I heard about any “Chipper Jones Haters.” There are baseball fans who might not like Chipper Jones, but that would only be because of the damage he’s done to their team of preference.
In his 18 years, Jones has played in 92 playoff games, and helped the Braves win 11 straight NL East divisions from 1995-2005. He has a playoff batting average of .288, and won one World Series in 1995, and played in two other World Series, in 1996 and 1999. In 1999 Chipper Jones won the NL MVP, along with winning his 1st ever silver slugger award.
The thing about Chipper Jones is that he may be one of, if not THE classiest player in baseball in the past three decades. He goes in, does his work he’s expected to do, produces numbers, and is a team leader who doesn’t draw attention from the national media. His personality seems to be the opposite of Alex Rodriguez.
The only player who is comparable to Chipper Jones is lifelong Yankee, Derek Jeter. As much as Red Sox fans hate the Yankees and may claim to hate Jeter, it’s hard not to have a lot of respect for him. Throughout their careers, Jeter has gotten a lot more publicity than Jones, but that has been due to Jeter playing in a much bigger market. It makes me wonder how much bigger of a star Chipper Jones could have been if he played in a market like New York, or Boston.
In the age of free agency and constant team movement, Chipper Jones has been a guy the Braves and their fans have come to depend on. He’s been great for the Braves and Major League Baseball in general. When Chipper hangs up his cleats in October his presences will be missed. Ballplayers like him don’t come around often, and it may be a long time before we see another player like Chipper.