As electric as the ninth inning was in the Braves playoff-clinching win over the Marlins on Tuesday night, Chipper Jones took a moment earlier in the game, walking out on deck, to let it sink in that this was his final homestand and the countdown to retirement is starting in earnest.
“Just kind of looked up into the rafters and breathed it all in because I know it’s not going to happen too many more times,” Jones said. “And I just wanted to enjoy it. Just an old man taking it all in, breathing it all in one last time before I hit the bricks.”
Jones’ parents are coming in town Thursday from Texas to be there for the pre-game ceremony Friday night, which starts at 7 p.m. He has two of his buddies, country musicians Jason Aldean and Luke Bryan, coming to Sunday’s game. Former Hawk Tracy McGrady was out at batting practice on Tuesday, and Jones said Falcons tight end Tony Gonzalez was planning to come to Wednesday night’s game.
Jones said he received boots from the governor of Mississippi.
“It’s really cool that people want to come and be here in this atmosphere in the last week and say they were here,” Jones said.
For that reason, Jones has set out to start every game of this homestand, finishing out the series against the Marlins and playing all three games against the Mets. He hasn’t started games on six consecutive days all season but he’s determined to do it now.
At the same time, he’s worked to balance a host of media requests.
“It’s a win-win; I’m excited about the next week plus,” Jones said. “…When it’s over, that big gust of wind you’ll feel is me exhaling.”