Chipper overwhelmed by fans, emotion on tribute night




By all accounts, Chipper Jones has a photographic memory when it comes to baseball. He can recall sequences from pitchers he’s faced years ago, pulling a 1-0 fastball here or a 2-2 slider there from the library in his head of more than 10,000 plate appearances during his 19-year career with the Braves.

He’s going to need those mythical memory skills to retain all that took place in his honor Friday night during the Braves tribute to their future Hall of Fame third baseman.

The scope of it might even have been a little much for the clutch-est of hitters, who has thrived on the ninth inning like no other Atlanta hitter.

“I was an emotional wreck all night,” Jones said. “It’s so overwhelming. And the support and the love in the ballpark tonight was just something that it’s hard to prepare yourself for.”

Jones took each and every swing with a sold-out crowd of 51,910 – the seventh largest in Turner Field history – on their feet, chanting “let’s go, Chipper.” Flashbulbs popped off like he was Mark McGwire in the 1998 home run chase. Every third fan seemed to be wearing a “Jones” No. 10 jersey or T-shirt, or holding a sign.

One read “Thank you Todd Van Poppel,” with a nod to the hard-throwing pitcher from Texas the Braves might have chosen first overall in the 1990 draft if he hadn’t rejected them in pursuit of a bigger signing bonus.

“I sold my house in Canada to come to your retirement party,” another sign read. “My Dad named me Chipper,” one said. “This math teacher loves Chipper’s stats” was another. And “Chipper for President.”

Between every inning the Braves played video messages on the jumbotron from everyone from Hank Aaron saying he “Hope your plaque is next to mind” to other former Braves like Dale Murphy, Javy Lopez, Ryan Klesko, Otis Nixon, Sid Bream, and Andruw Jones.

“I think I had a tear planted in the corner of my eye basically all night,” said Jones, who went 0-for-4 with four groundouts to prove it. “It’s pretty tough to hit when you’re misty like that. It doesn’t bode well for picking up rotation real well.”

Fans came from 1,500 miles away like brothers Leon and Chevy Teague from New Mexico or four blocks away from Turner Field, like Atlanta’s own Tedd Dunn who lives on Pullian Street.

Dunn remembers the first time he ever saw Jones in the winter after the Braves completed their run from worst-to-first to go to the 1991 World Series. Dunn was trying to collect autographs from all of the 1991 players, a pursuit which took him to a card show at the old Castlegate Hotel.

Braves star outfielder Ron Gant was signing there, with a line of 300 or 400 people waiting for him. Jones, who had just completed his first full season in the Braves organization with the Macon Braves, was sitting at a table with his girlfriend all but twiddling his thumbs.

“Chipper was some young buck that people had never heard of,” said Dunn, who still has a photograph with Jones from that day. “Well the people who were real Braves fans had heard of him.”

Let’s just say, a few have caught on along the way. As Jones was resting up about 4 p.m. Friday afternoon, taking in the Ryder Cup on a TV in the privacy of the Braves player lounge, fans were lined up across Georgia Avenue just to get into the gates at Turner Field.

Chevy Teague, 21, is from a town of 16,000 people in Deming, New Mexico, about an hour away from anywhere. He wore Jones’ No. 10 jersey from the time he was a first baseman on his T-ball team to his high school days when he played third base too.

“Chipper’s been the man ever since we were little,” said Chevy, who skipped a government class at New Mexico State to hop a flight with his brother and parents. “I wore No. 10 my whole life because I wanted to be like Chipper.”

Jones has said throughout his farewell tour that he didn’t think he would get teary-eyed toward the end, like he did the day in spring training when he announced his retirement after 23 years in the Braves organization.

Jones was all smiles on the infield stage before Friday’s game, when he was told he was being given a pool table by his 2012 Braves teammates, whom Brian McCann declared the “coolest” team Jones has ever played with. Jones joked that the mock turtleneck undershirts they all wore in his honor Friday were called “nerd-lenecks” behind his back.

“That’s awesome” he mouthed, when Braves president John Schuerholz announced that in addition to giving Jones a trip to Hawaii, and refurbishing 10 youth league fields in Atlanta in honor of his “10” jersey, the Braves would be sending his actual locker from Turner Field home with him.

But Jones got choked up after taking the podium to his familiar “Crazy Train” walk-up song. He blew out a long breath as he soaked up the ovation, took his hat off and settled it back down on his head, needing a moment to collect himself.

After thanking everybody from his parents Lynne and Larry, to his sons, his best friend and agent and the Braves players, staff and personnel, he stopped to address the fans.

“To all you fans out there in Braves country,” said Jones, leaning into podium, drumming the fingers on his left hand. “To the people listening on radio to the people watching on TV, I have thoroughly enjoyed the last 20 years for three hours every night trying to entertain you guys….

“I thank you from the bottom of my heart,” he said. “You will never be forgotten.”

40 comments Add your comment

Widespread panic

September 29th, 2012
12:20 am

Electric atmosphere at the Ted tonight. I’ve never been to a game where the 4th level bleachers were filled all the way around.

Congratulations, Chipper. We’ll never forget you.

Chipper is Clutch

September 29th, 2012
12:29 am

Chipper, well done. You taught a generation of young ball players how to be winners, how to play the right way. Your Dad must be an amazing teacher, because you arrived ready to kick butt. Hats off to Larry Sr on this special night.

Matt Colvin

September 29th, 2012
12:45 am

Awesome story, awesome night, awesome Chipper career. Never been to Turner Field that full, AMAZING.

Oh, and one addition to the story. It says some fans came from 1500 miles away – Some fans came from over 6500 Miles away. My wife and I came all the way from Tokyo to see the game tonight ;)

CSP

September 29th, 2012
12:47 am

All Class Chipper.

Fly OnThe Wall

September 29th, 2012
7:21 am

Thanks for all the great memories Chipper…especially my favorite of you about falling out of the dugout after the Bmac bellyflop into 3rd.

reckingball

September 29th, 2012
9:33 am

Braves need to crank the bats up, and come back at the Mets today.
go braves

Mike Jay

September 29th, 2012
9:36 am

Speaking of class tim…..

Love ya Chipper! Good luck with whatever curveball life throws you next. Look forward to when you decide to get into coaching with the Braves. Thanks for the memories!

DIPEN PATEL

September 29th, 2012
9:40 am

Let’s do our best to win another WORLD SERIES TITLE for DAMN GOOD OLD CHIPPER and we will not at all go down without a fight in our quest for a second WORLD SERIES TITLE for MR CHIPPER JONES. GO BRAVESNATION IN 2012 AND BEYOND !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

BravesfaninWis

September 29th, 2012
10:02 am

Looking forward to the Wild Card head to head game on Oct 5th, but it would have been much sweeter if the Braves could have made a run and unseat the Nats as division champs in the final 10 games of the season. Huddy was dealing last night until the 7th inning when he missed on several pitches, and unfortunately he gave up a back breaking 3 run HR to Duda when he had him down 1-2 in the count. Hope Hudson can figure things out before he pitches again, (if he is given the chance that is)

Huge difference between playing in a wild card head to head game and getting a first round bye like they would have gotten had they somehow managed to win the division. All pitchers make mistakes, and Huddy has limited them this year for sure, but it sucks nonetheless. They still have a shot at the division title, but with only 5 games left and down by 4 games, their chances are as about as good as someone winning the lottery. I just hope they can prevail for the first time in a long time when their backs are against the wall against the Cardinals on Oct 5th. The Braves will have all the advantages in that one, so they need to show what kind of team they are. Losing that game will send clear messages.

Chipper's da man

September 29th, 2012
10:09 am

Congratulations, Chipper. We are going to miss you. I was trading e mails with a friend of mine last night and he said his kids who are entering college have never seen the Braves without Chipper. Man did that hit me. Chipper, you are a great player and we will really miss you. Hey, how about hanging out in the booth with Joe and Chip next year?

J J

September 29th, 2012
10:37 am

Braves just forfeit WC game. It would stop it from being massacre.

David O'Brien

September 29th, 2012
10:40 am

J J, saw your comment here and the one on the other blog a few minutes ago. Seriously, if that’s all you’ve got…

J J

September 29th, 2012
11:25 am

Its the truth. They dont score enough runs. One run won’t win against Cardinals. Got to have 5 or more by 5th inning to beat Cardinals, Won;t happen. Nice try.

[...] Chipper overwhelmed by fans, emotion on tribute night [...]

74bravesjersey

September 29th, 2012
12:03 pm

If time would’ve allowed it, I would’ve loved to hear from Hammer’n Hank about chipper, though he may not felt up to par to speak, great tribute, also noting he wore #16 when he first came up, that was classic. Chipper, you are a Braves legend, & we appreciate what you’ve done. Hope they’ve given you a place in the organization that’ll mentor future prospects. I wished in back of my mind they would had the great “OZZIE” himself made an appearance, that would’ve been cool.(not referr’n to the marlin’s mgr.)

J J

September 29th, 2012
12:11 pm

If he is that good, why did he leave 2 men in scoring positions. We need hitters. Not someone just out for a glory trip.

bravesgrl4life

September 29th, 2012
12:23 pm

Beautiful article, CR.

Last night was so special. Packed out house, very little room to move comfortably, but it was a blast. Seeing all those 10’s held up at one time was really cool.

And Chipper. Yes, Chipper. That brash young man we all knew back in the 90s, that cocky, arrogant young man. Well, what can I say? I say that I am very proud of a Florida kid who grew up at the same time just a few miles up the road from where I was growing up. Proud of the player he became, but prouder still of the man he has become. He’s no longer that brash, cocky young man, but a classy man who knows who he is and how he got there.

We love you, Chipper, and 2013 will just not be the same without you. But you will forever be in our hearts.

Maria

September 29th, 2012
12:59 pm

Congrats Chipper-you’re the best!

Bernice Johnson-it must be great to be prefect like you. Just go the hell away.

J J

September 29th, 2012
1:12 pm

@BERNICE JOHNSON Well said. you are correct. What a jerk. He is opnly still here to be on a glory trip.

[...] choked away the last two games while the Braves were beating up on the Mar more… Chipper overwhelmed by fans, emotion on tribute night – blogs.ajc.com 09/29/2012 By all accounts, Chipper Jones has a photographic memory when it [...]

[...] choked away the last two games while the Braves were beating up on the Mar more… Chipper overwhelmed by fans, emotion on tribute night – blogs.ajc.com 09/29/2012 By all accounts, Chipper Jones has a photographic memory when it [...]

bruce

September 29th, 2012
2:34 pm

Dave, very nice job on the video recap

reckingball

September 29th, 2012
2:44 pm

JJ 11:25 am…….”Got to have 5 or more runs to beat Cardinals. Won’t happen.”
Well buttwistle, why do you think that the Braves can’t score 5 or more runs to beat your Cardinals?
It has already happen in 5 out of the 6 games between the Braves and Cards this year, when the Braves whipped your Cardinals.

reckingball

September 29th, 2012
2:54 pm

sorry misspelled buttwistle….I meant to say asswhistle.

J J

September 29th, 2012
3:07 pm

They are not my cardinals. I hate the cardinals. There is a difference in now than before. The Cardinals were not playing well then. They are now. Cardinals are the highest scoring team in NL. Braves are 5th. I rest my case. Cardinals 8 Braves 2

reckingball

September 29th, 2012
3:44 pm

JJ ….I apoligize for calling you a name.
You surely do not sound like a Braves fan.
“The Cardinals were not playing well then.”
The Braves were not playing that good then, 14-15 in May.
In fact, the Braves were riding a 7 game losing streak when they met your Cards, in the 2nd, three game series.
Your Cards scored 32 runs in those 6 games in May, the Braves scored 40.
So your argument holds no validity at all, you lose you case.
Btw, your prediction Cards 8 Braves 2 is idiotic(I am not calling you an idiot, just saying your statement is idiotic).
go braves

J J

September 29th, 2012
3:55 pm

THEY ARE NOT MY CARDINALS,I HATE THE CARDINALS. Braves have a 3rd baseman is on a glorified ego trip. You have 3 broken down catchers. A centerfielder is just playing until he can move on to Nationals. A second baseman that just swings fot the fences. A rookie SS that has no clue what to do.That leaves 3 players. Prado,Heyward and Freeman. They are doing fine. Can’t win with just 3 players.Good luck scoring runs. They only score 1 on Niese. They might not even score on wainwright.

reckingball

September 29th, 2012
4:38 pm

You are a Cardinal fan, on a Braves blog, just go ahead and admit it.

bobbymahlon

September 29th, 2012
5:17 pm

JJ– Where do you come up with “a rookie shortstop that has no clue what to do”. The only thing I can think you are talking about is him running around backing up plays something that a lot of players are too lazy to do. Other wise I don’t think you know anything about baseball.

J J

September 29th, 2012
5:24 pm

bobby he is a rookie. they make mistakes. he leaves to many men in scoring position. doesn’t hit when it counts.

J J

September 29th, 2012
5:25 pm

I AM NOT A CARDINAL FAHN. I am a Brave fan,but just facing reality.

ChipperIsGod

September 29th, 2012
6:00 pm

I don’t think the Cards will beat us. They’re dangerous and a good team, but I think we’ll out pitch them, and our bullpen is better than them. If we can hold them to two runs or less, we’ll be fine. Offense MUST step us though. I worry if they throw a lefty, but I think we can win.

Chipper got this emotional stuff out of the way, which is good. I think now he can return to the subject of the matter. Can’t wait to see him tomorrow one final time in the regular season.

Also, Fredi needs to rest him soon. Even if it’s tomorrow when I go. All I ask for is a pinch hit appearance. I want Chipper to be as fresh as possible. I’m sure he’ll get loads of rest in Pittsburgh, I just don’t want him to over exert himself. He hasn’t played six in a row all season. Last thing we need is him getting hurt trying to play for the fans. I appreciate it, I really do. I know he wants the crowd behind him and to inspire everyone. However, eyes need to be on the bigger prize here which is the post season.

J J

September 29th, 2012
6:05 pm

WAKE UP. You will not outpitch them and you will not outscore them. Quit dreaming. Braves are done unless they can have 5 runs by 5th inn.,but that will not happen.

Quack Quack

September 29th, 2012
6:36 pm

Thanks Carroll Rogers for the great article on a true baseball hero. He has, and is, one of the best to ever play the game. It has been an honor to watch him play.

Lets get the Muts tonight, and take 2012 all the way!!

GO BRAVES!!!

J J

September 29th, 2012
6:58 pm

Hi QuackQuack We know each other thru a mutual friend that left us for australia. I wish her well and miss her

74bravesjersey

September 29th, 2012
7:18 pm

All right Bravos – LET”S GET AFTER IT! Let’s get this machine steam-roll’n, & go from here on out.

reckingball

September 29th, 2012
9:21 pm

Oh man, not another character. Wow.

john77

September 30th, 2012
12:01 am

JJ your are about as dum as a box of rocks if you think the braves SS don’t know what he is doing and about Chipper he has done it all year and for 19 years not all the players get a hit everytime they come up to bat even the Cardinals hit good every night.The Nats just beat them in the 10th and had there best at the plate hitting.It want be a game that the score is 8-2 but more like 1-2 or 2-1 or a shutout by one team or the other and I think the braves will when the game and if you are a Braves fan you are a dum one to think the Braves want play good or the Cardinals are hot look at how they have been playing for the last 6 games or more if a team can’t beat them then they don’t need to be in the one game play offs and just to add one more thing they might not even make it after the Nats games so set back and watch and play manger in your head and wish you were able to play a game and make the money they do and look at how the Cardinals have played all year and how the Braves have played and came out with more wins too….

GTMike14

September 30th, 2012
1:09 am

That’s the longest sentence I’ve ever seen

Mike Lewis

September 30th, 2012
10:27 am

To J.J., whatever your problem is (still live at home with parents in basement, wife won’t let you watch baseball, etc.), I hope you get it rectified so you can enjoy life and the Braves. A true fan doesn’t criticize his own team to the level you do…it’s OK to critique…but.

Yes, the Braves have some problems as all teams do. There is no perfect team or player in baseball. You ridicule Chipper because of one night yet he has provided us with 20 years of service to the Braves Nation with hundreds of highlights through the years. Yes, he is on a year-long retirement party but he is deserving of it, despite of some of his flaws, on and off the field. Get over it and give him the Honor and dignity he deserves for his service.

Concerning Uggla, yes, he has had a bad year but he is streaky and appears to be riding hot now so let’s ride him into the playoffs and “forgive” him for his past sins. Simmons is indeed a rookie but you may recall (your negativity might prevent it) that he was going crazy before his injury with excellent defense and timely hitting so allow him time to get re-acclimated to MLB pitching after a long layoff. Bourne has, too, been a dissapointment after his hot start but his “overall” contributions have been positive. Yes, he is repped by Scott Boras (your hero?) so he will be overpriced and overvalued so I recommend we let him go his own way, yet we need his speed at leadoff terribly (I admit his defense at times is very suspect in fly balls he has to chase down over his head).

Not many teams can make the claim they can “outpitch” the Braves…certainly the Cardinals are one of those teams that can’t…so we should be able to hold them under eight runs (can’t guarantee it but based on probability). Thus, if we score two runs, we might win! That’s how a true Braves fan feels!

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