Mets pay tribute to Chipper, a big thorn in their side

NEW YORK – He’s been cast as a villain against the Mets for nearly his entire career, and Chipper Jones absolutely thrived in the role. But that doesn’t mean he enjoys getting booed lustily by Mets fans.

“I don’t think I enjoyed it as much as [John] Rocker did,” Jones said before Friday’s series opener against the Mets at Citi Field, the last scheduled series in New York for the retiring third baseman. “I’m one of those guys that likes to be liked. I care what people think about me. I care what people’s image of me is.

“I think it’s that whole Civil War thing – North against the South, all that. We were the country boys that were brash and cocky, but very good. And coming up here and playing well, on a big stage. I think it was good for baseball. Because no matter where you go, you always got the Yankees and the Red Sox. Well now you’ve got a very, very good Mets team who has a big rival in a very, very good Braves team back in the day. And it made for good back-page banter, I’ll say that.”

Jones has been a thorn in the side of New York fans, who still routinely chant “LAR-ee, LAR-ee” when he bats – because they know that no one who likes him uses his given name Larry Wayne Jones Jr.

There was a mix of boos and cheers when a congratulatory message was played on the Citi Field video board minutes before Friday’s game, the first time Jones has been booed at any of his farewell-tour tributes this year.

The Mets presented him with an elaborate 3-D pop-art painting that highlighted Jones’ career at Shea. Unlike other teams, however, they had the presentation hours before the game and out of public view, during the press conference. Mets officials were concerned about how some of their fans might react to an on-field presentation honoring a player who’d done so much damage against them in games over the years.

Not to mention a player who, in September 1999, after doing all he could with his bat to wreck the Mets’ playoff chances, famously commented that he guessed it was time for Mets fans to go change into their Yankees garb.

There were nearly 50 reporters and TV cameramen at a new conference before Friday’s game, the first time he’s had a scheduled media event in any of his last visits to cities this season. It was necessary for the volume of interview requests.

Jones began Friday with .314 career average in 239 games against the Mets, with 46 doubles, four triples, 49 homers and 158 RBIs. Much of his success against them came at old Shea Stadium, where in 88 games he hit .313 with 40 extra-base hits (19 homers), 55 RBIs, a .407 on-base percentage and .557 slugging percentage (.964 OPS).

He had so many fond memories of that stadium that Jones named one of his sons Shea.

Jones made such an impression in New York over the yars that the owner of Foley’s Restaurant & Pub, a famous baseball-themed Irish bar in Manhattan, renamed it “Chipper’s” Friday through Sunday during the series.

“It’s been a good ride,” Jones said. “It’s been fun to come here and play in New York. I’ve loved the opportunity and I’ve enjoyed interacting with most of you [reporters]. Like I’ve said, the New York experience is one like no other. My father grew up a huge Mickey Mantle fan and I always had this preconceived notion of what playing in New York was like. And boy, was I in for a rude awakening when I finally did get here.”

Jones became the black-hatted Brave for Mets fans during that 1999 season, when the Braves and Mets battled for the division title and he pounded New York pitchers for seven homers and 14 RBIs in nine games after July 1, including seven Atlanta wins. He had four homers and seven RBIs in a crucial three-game series sweep Sept. 21-23 at Turner Field, all but settling the division race and securing the National League MVP award for Jones.

“I was in my fifth year in major league baseball and starting to take that next step upward and having a great season, getting some MVP talk,” he said. “ And then the Mets come in and we’ve got a one-game lead, and that series – I was just in a zone. There’s no other way to put it. They pitched me carefully, but there were a couple of situations in the series where they couldn’t avoid me, and I was just in one of those streaks where everything I hit went out of the ballpark.

“It kind of put me on the map, and I guess that’s the first time I started drawing the ire of Mets fans.”

32 comments Add your comment

Kat

September 7th, 2012
8:54 pm

Thanks David, nice read on the tribute!

Jimbo Jones

September 7th, 2012
9:14 pm

Like he has done for almost every season with the bat, he single-handedly carried the Braves offense to the Series that year. Great memories DOB. Thanks for that.

derek k

September 7th, 2012
9:16 pm

Awesome story. Thanks just to let everyone know im namin my kid after chipper! :)

NY Joe

September 7th, 2012
9:46 pm

As a New Yorker and Yankee fan I loved the the 96 and 99 World Series.

Congrats Chipper

September 7th, 2012
9:50 pm

Be the ball. Chipper. Nuh nuh nuh nuh

JohnDrake6

September 7th, 2012
10:09 pm

I often remember one of Skip Caray’s last radio broadcasts from Shea.

Off and on during the early innings you could hear a lone Mets fan yelling “LAR-ree, LAR-ree” so distinctly that he must have been hanging from rafters. He was audible for a while then trailed off until coming back full-throated when Chipper came to bat in the 7th or 8th, leading Skip to tell the audience that our friend was back.

What seemed like a dozen “LAR-ree”s later, Chipper hit one out and, after announcing the home run, Skip followed it up with “Larry THAT, buddy!”

technut

September 7th, 2012
10:31 pm

JDW

September 7th, 2012
11:32 pm

Yo Chip, you made us proud and still do! First ball HOF, baby!!!

Just Asking?

September 7th, 2012
11:49 pm

Chipper just might be the best Brave ever.

Braves Fan in VA

September 8th, 2012
12:54 am

I bet NY Joe really liked Jim Leyritz — classy guy — particularly on the roads.

I would have to say in response to Just Asking? that Chipper still ranks behind, at the least, Hank Aaron, Eddie Mathews, Warren Spahn, and Greg Maddux, off the top of my head. He’d be in the conversation with Glavine, Murph, Smoltz, and Lew Burdette for next on that list.

Eric

September 8th, 2012
12:57 am

Really starting to worry how much I’m going to miss Chipper next year…

Teddy B

September 8th, 2012
1:35 am

The Braves broadcasters said they couldn’t hear any “LAR-eee” chants tonight, well they must be deaf I heard them every time he was up. Not as loud as usual but they were there. I was hoping he’d smash a homer just to shut em up, but theres a couple more games to play and Chipper loves NY.

Chipper has been a Brave ever since I was a kid, its going to be strange next season when he’s not splitting time between 3rd and the DL. Last season I got pretty frustrated with how much time he missed and thought he’d best retire while he had some pride but this year he’s been surprisingly good. I’m very pleased with his production for as old and beat up as he is.

I think we all know who the next face of the franchise is….he went deep tonight and his name isn’t Dan Uggla. J-Hey is the real deal, and will be exciting to watch for a very long time. I just hope we can afford him in the long run.

Brave Heart

September 8th, 2012
4:22 am

Mets (well NY fans in general) represent all that’s wrong with our society. They generally have absolutely no class at all. I guess it comes from living in that zoo called NYC. I still don’t get why anyone would want to live there.

Ted M

September 8th, 2012
5:07 am

in 239 games against the Met – at old Shea Stadium, where in 88 games

wow that means chipper played in a 151 at Citi field…how long has that stadium been open?

Wrecker

September 8th, 2012
6:02 am

Ted — He played against the Mets at Turner Field and Atlanta-Fulton County Stadium as well. I think the number includes home and away games.

Packer Ed

September 8th, 2012
7:18 am

For us 60 year olds, we got to watch 2 great Braves Third Basemen, Eddie Mathews and Chipper Jones.

No franchise ever had two any better!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Thenumber34

September 8th, 2012
7:53 am

Braveheart, I agree. I’ve been to several Yankees/Mets games vs the Braves and the treat you receive at their stadiums is classless. Had one guy throw a beer on my son…..Yankee bastard ended up crying for his mama after I was done with him.

Raoul

September 8th, 2012
8:38 am

I’m heading to Hooters for lunch.

Rob

September 8th, 2012
9:53 am

Originally from Georgia, I live in Connecticut now. I went to Braves-Mets games at Shea in 2002 & 2003 and didn’t experience anything bad from the Mets fans. They really didn’t like Chipper, but as a kid going to Braves games at the old stadium, I really didn’t like Pete Rose. I’ve gone to a Met-Yankee game and think the crowd was the best/most rocking crowd I’ve seen at a baseball game. The last time I remember Braves fans being that much into a game was in the early-mid 1990s.

Rob

September 8th, 2012
9:53 am

Originally from Georgia, I live in Connecticut now. I went to Braves-Mets games at Shea in 2002 & 2003 and didn’t experience anything bad from the Mets fans. They really didn’t like Chipper, but as a kid going to Braves games at the old stadium, I really didn’t like Pete Rose. I’ve gone to a Met-Yankee game and think the crowd was the best/most rocking crowd I’ve seen at a baseball game. The last time I remember Braves fans being that much into a game was in the early-mid 1990s.

Damn Yankee

September 8th, 2012
10:05 am

Note to Chipper: Northerners don’t spent even a fraction of the time thinking about the Civil War that Southerners seem to do. But we did think Rocker was an ignorant redneck… ;)

DostaDawg

September 8th, 2012
10:08 am

I’m 47 and have watched braves since the Buzz Capra era (bout 40 yrs.)and Chipper is without doubt my fav. Brave followed by D. Murphy and G. Maddux. Thanx for the memories. It wont be the same next year.

daSarge

September 8th, 2012
10:52 am

My image of chipper is of an overpaid adulterer who can’t keep a wife due to his love for Hooter’s girls. He should focus more on being a good husband and a better example to his children than worrying about what fans in New York think about him. Hall of Fame in a kid’s game, Hall of Shame in the game of Life.

Mike Jay

September 8th, 2012
11:26 am

daSarge, If your lasting image of people is the worst moment/mistake of their lives, no matter how long ago it was, you must live a very miserable life. I think it’s time to move on.

THEX

September 8th, 2012
11:42 am

This just breaks my heart! Chipper, you are going to be so missed. It just won’t be the same.
DeSarge-you’re an idiot.

Fats Johnson

September 8th, 2012
12:03 pm

John Rocker contributes alot of his money to charity and has caught H enough about expressing himself that alot of New Yorkers actually agreed with him. That whole thing was blown up by the self righteous PC crowd,that never offends anyone. :? )

Bob Scott

September 8th, 2012
12:10 pm

Anyone who’s mad for Mets fans boo’ing Chipper don’t understand what it means to be passionate. Not every fan has to be “classy” and cheer.

To some players, the boo’ing and Larry chants are nothing more than a sign of respect. This is the last series Chipper will ever play there, and I’d imagine Chipper himself would rather them boo and chant Larry than all of the sudden feel warmly welcomed. This is the last time some of these fans will ever get to chant and boo him as they have for many years. If I were Chipper I wouldn’t expect any less.

bravesgrl4life

September 8th, 2012
12:44 pm

Nice read. Man, that 99 season was a fun one with that battle for the Division Title! Can’t think of one that’s been as much fun as that one.

Walter Matthau

September 9th, 2012
9:42 am

Hey Damn Yankee,

You can take your apology and your trophy and shove it.

Regards,
Tanner

Walter Matthau

September 9th, 2012
9:44 am

Kelly Leak = bandido

ralph lauren coupon code

October 4th, 2013
10:59 am

[...] The Atlanta view of the Mets’ presentation? Writes Braves beat writer David O’Brien in the Atlanta Journal-Constitution: [...]

Add your comment