Washington - Leave it to the division rival Nationals to give Chipper Jones the most personal pre-game sendoff ceremony yet. Some of Jones’ closest friends in baseball and former Braves teammates, Adam LaRoche and Mark DeRosa, joined Nationals third baseman Ryan Zimmerman and general manager Mike Rizzo in presenting Jones with retirement gifts during a pre-game ceremony Wednesday night.
LaRoche and DeRosa were both included in a video montage, with DeRosa saying about his mentor, “He holds a special place for me” and hunting buddy LaRoche saying “look forward to spending a lot of time in the woods with you. Love you, Buddy.”
All three players gave Jones bears hugs, as the Nationals presented him with the third base used in Monday night’s game and an autographed and framed photograph of him, LaRoche and DeRosa. LaRoche and Rizzo also presented Jones with the bat from the home run he hit off Odalis Perez on March 30, 2008, the first home run ever hit at Nationals Park.
“It’s the first one where I actually started to get a little misty,” said Jones, whose been honored at his final games at ballparks from Los Angeles to Boston. “To have two of my best friends in the game of baseball out there talking on the scoreboard and standing out there with me…. I’m not ashamed to say I’m one of the many people who have a man crush on Ryan Zimmerman too, so to have those three guys standing out there, it meant a lot to me, along with Mike Rizzo. (It was) probably the most extensive and most meaningful of all the tributes thus far.”