Chipper Jones might have ruined the drama in the “Final Vote” for the final spot on the National League roster but he set the stage for plenty more to come in the July 10th All-Star game in Kansas City.
The sentimental choice, who was leading in the fan final vote tally released Tuesday morning, was named to the NL team as a replacement for injured Dodgers outfielder Matt Kemp on Tuesday afternoon. The 40-year-old Jones will play in his eighth All-Star game in his final season as an Atlanta Brave.
“I’m going to be a kid in a candy story, carrying four other kids in a candy store,” said Jones, who plans to take his four sons Matthew, 14, Trey, 11, Shea, 7, and Tristan, 6, to their first All-Star game.
Jones said they were swimming on vacation in Miami when he texted them with the news Tuesday, and his parents were scrambling to get flights to Kansas City as well from their ranch in Southwest Texas.
“It’s crazy,” Jones said. “But it’s fun. It’s a good crazy.”
Jones was originally going to have to wait until Thursday afternoon to find out the results of the “Final Vote.” But NL manager Tony La Russa put an end to the suspense, naming him as Kemp’s replacement. The team already has seven other outfielders and La Russa has been saying all along he’d lean toward the veteran Jones if he were voting.
Jones was given the news after batting practice on Tuesday by Braves general manager Frank Wren. Jones said he got the same feeling as when he was named to his first team in 1996, when former manager Bobby Cox named his as a reserve.
“Same excitement every single time,” Jones said. “I’ve always cherished this experience, being able to go and rub elbows with the best players in the game, the elite of the elite and just get to know them. So many friendships have been forged at All-Star games. Going out to dinner or sitting around the clubhouse shooting the breeze. And now my kids get to do it with me and meet all the best players in the game and create a lifelong memory for them, which is cool for me to do.”
This also gives Jones a chance to play in Kauffman Stadium, the one current stadium in Major League Baseball he’s never played in before.
“It’s hard to believe that we’ve been playing interleague baseball for 15 years now, and the Atlanta Braves have never played in Kansas City,” Jones said. “So it’s the one ballpark I haven’t played in in my career and how fitting is it, that my last All-Star game gives me the opportunity to do that. Looking forward to playing in a new ballpark or at least taking batting practice in a new ballpark.”
Jones said he would tell La Russa it wouldn’t “hurt my feelings” if he sat on the bench for nine innings. He’s most interested in taking it all in with his sons.
“I really don’t have any expectations for the game itself other than to sit there and cheerlead,” Jones said. “And if he does call my number, I’ll step up there and take a couple whacks. And see what happens.”