KANSAS CITY – Braves third baseman Chipper Jones is on his eighth All-Star team in his 19th season in the majors. Here’s what some All-Stars had to say about him the past two days in Kansas City, where the Midsummer Classic will be played Tuesday night.
Jones, 40, has never played a game in Kaufmann Stadium, which would be the 45th ballpark he’s played in during his major league career. He has announced he’s retiring after the season.
GEORGE BRETT, former Royals third baseman, Hall of Famer: “I’m excited to see him. I’ve seen him in spring training. He’s never played in Kansas City. I think the Kansas City people are going to give him a thunderous ovation…. Unbelievable [career]. Hall of Famer. I’ll see him in Cooperstown in five years.”
DAVID FREESE, Cardinals All-Star third baseman: “Chipper’s the man – in bold, all caps, Chipper’s the man. Growing up, watching the Braves on TBS… You get in the back of the bus [coming to All-Star media day] and there’s Chipper in the back, ‘Hey Freese, what up?’ Come on. No way that’s happening…. When the [candidates for the] Final Vote came out and there was five of us and I was part of that, there was a big piece of me that, I wanted to be here absolutely, but the fact that Chipper’s here, that’s cool. He deserves to be here. He’s played in this league for what, 20 years? You look at him now [glances over to Jones across room], he wants to be here. He’s got his boys in the back of the bus with him today. The fact that he gets to be here and I’m a part of this, that’s cool.”
MATT HARRISON, Rangers All-Star pitcher: “He was pretty much the face of the franchise when I was going through the minor leagues with [the Braves]. He’s a great guy and has always been a standup, class-act guy. It was an honor to be around him for the little time I was and to see how he goes about his business. He’s been there almost 20 years. It’s just unbelievable, to be there that long with one team.”
CHRIS SALE, White Sox All-Star pitcher: “Some of these guys in this room are guys [who were in] video games. It’s a fun experience to come in and play on the same field as some of them. Chipper is one of them. I remember being 11-12 years old and he attended one of the baseball camps I was at [in Florida] and I got to take a picture with him and now I’m playing against him. It’s a little crazy to think about. I still got the picture: braces in my mouth, about this tall [4 feet].”
ADAM DUNN, White Sox All-Star first baseman: “He’s been one of my favorites for a long time. It’s obviously a Hall of Fame career and I’m just glad he’s going out like he wants to go out, and glad he’s here. He deserves to be here. I look forward to seeing the big ovation he gets…. The guy could have retired, but he loves the game. [Derek] Jeter, same way. People are all over them when they get older, this and that. He could have gone home, but he loves the game. He loves playing baseball. How are you going to fault a guy for that?”
RAFAEL FURCAL, Cardinals All-Star shortstop: “I’m so excited to be here with Chipper’s in his last time here. I learned a lot from him in the years I spent in Atlanta. He’s one of the best switch-hitters in the game. Great teammate, great player, great hitter. Everything.”
COLE HAMELS, Phillies All-Star pitcher: “I think it’s pretty cool for him to be here, especially with him retiring this year. It’s an honor. I was there for Barry Bonds’ last All-Star game, now Chipper Jones. Two of the guys I grew up watching play the game, and they played it so well…. He’s a switch-hitter and he does it so well from both sides. That right there says a lot about a person. He’s not a flashy type guy. That’s something I really like. He just goes out and plays baseball. That’s ultimately what you can show kids.”
BRYCE HARPER, Nationals All-Star outfielder: “I had Vegas on my mind for about four days before this, but being able to come here for Chipper’s last game is going to be amazing. To be able to tell my kids that I saw Chipper for the last time? It’s just going to be fun to see all the different players and all the fans. Just everything that’s going to happen these next two days it’s going to be a blast.
Here’s video of New York Yankees short stop Derek Jeter talking about Jones