Saying thanks to Chipper for safeguarding our memories

The Chipper of yesteryear. (AJC file photo)

The Chipper of yesteryear. (AJC photo by David Tulis)

I was getting worried. I’d always figured Chipper Jones would be the exception who proved the rule: The great athlete who knew exactly when to quit. But the more I saw and heard, the more I wondered if pride and ego and general cussedness hadn’t gotten hold of him the way it grabs most of the greats.

And that, for possibly selfish reasons, troubled me no end. I like and respect Chipper Jones. He might have been OK with being an occasional and lessened presence on the field, but it would have bothered the heck out of me. I didn’t want to watch Chipper flail or fail or limp around like Walter Brennan in a ballcap. I wanted him to go before – paraphrasing T.S. Eliot – the moment of his greatness flickered.

And now he will. Good for him, I say, but better for me and all of those like me: Those who came to know Chipper as the everyday anchor of a team that did nothing but finish first for more than a decade, as the one non-pitcher of the Braves’ golden era who’s a first-ballot Hall of Famer. (Bobby Cox not included.)

I’ll concede that it’s not easy to stop doing a thing you’ve done most of your life, a thing you started doing not because it was profitable but because it was fun. If someone came to me and said, “Bradley, you need to quit because your famous fat paragraphs are getting as overstuffed as Grady Jackson,” I wouldn’t like it. I’d dig in my heels. I’d push back, as the vernacular has it.

And maybe it’s unfair, regarding retirement, to hold a public performer to a more rigid standard. If performers didn’t have healthy self-images, they wouldn’t have had the guts to perform in the first place. But there’s nothing quite so sad as watching a performer whose audience doesn’t want to watch anymore, and I was really afraid that would be Chipper Jones.

But no. In the end, the famous Chipper pragmatism trumped human nature. He’s leaving at the right time, and he’ll be leaving before his legacy gathers rust. I applaud him, and I also say thanks. And not just for the memories, but for having the uncommon grace to safeguard them.

By Mark Bradley

106 comments Add your comment

Rob

March 22nd, 2012
12:23 pm

Rickster

March 22nd, 2012
12:25 pm

Thanks so much Chipper.

Rickster

March 22nd, 2012
12:25 pm

I just hope he’s not getting out one year too late.

Shug

March 22nd, 2012
12:32 pm

Chipper would have more to say on the subject, but he tweaked something and is listed day to day.

Rickster

March 22nd, 2012
12:32 pm

Bet he never thought that the World Series he won during his rookie season would be his only one so far.

Fish Bisch

March 22nd, 2012
12:34 pm

Raleigh

March 22nd, 2012
12:34 pm

Give the mets and all of our other NL east foes hell one more year Chipper! I grew up watching you and you’ll always be my favorite player ever. Which is why I will always wear your jersey proudly. Go braves!

George Stein

March 22nd, 2012
12:38 pm

He’s probably going to end up with a career .300/.400/.500 line. That’s outstanding for a single season and out of this world for a career.

As Fredi might say, gotta tip your cap to him.

Bahwitdabah

March 22nd, 2012
12:39 pm

So with Chipper retiring after this year, when do you think his final game will be? Next month? June? August? We all know he won’t finish the year, but its been a pleasure watching him for nearly 2 decades

Hummon

March 22nd, 2012
12:41 pm

Once again, a little poetic justice for the long forgotten but once coveted Todd Van Poppel, who told the then sorry Braves not to draft him, so we had to settle for this hall of famer instead.

Prime Time

March 22nd, 2012
12:42 pm

Chipper busted his butt for the Bravos his whole career. Thanks for everything Chipper and have a great final year!

DirtyJacket

March 22nd, 2012
12:44 pm

Bradley, did you really compare yourself as a writer to Chipper as a ballplayer? You are truly delusional. No one will miss your ‘work’ when it’s over, some of us will miss Chipper.

DePort

March 22nd, 2012
12:50 pm

If Chipper wasnt good enough for you sooo called “fans” … then you need to give up the game of baseball and go complain about politics or something. We witnessed a first ballot hall of famer for all these years and all I read is negative crap about him. I am glad to see some thanks from the fans on here recently but it still makes me sick to think how these nasty negative comments were constantly posted on here by all those ungrateful inconsiderate “fans”…

Trojan

March 22nd, 2012
12:51 pm

Chipper is what a baseball player should be. You are perhaps the greatest Brave Ever

Herschel Talker

March 22nd, 2012
12:51 pm

MB:

He most definitely is not leaving at the right time. He should have left two years ago.

HT

George Stein

March 22nd, 2012
12:54 pm

He has been the fourth most valuable player on the team the past two seasons, Herschel, and no one complaining about him has bothered to name a replacement.

Bama14

March 22nd, 2012
12:59 pm

Best Brave Ever? Chipper merits consideration, along with Smoltz and Glavine, but 755 keeps The Hammer at the top of my list.

FunkyBobbyJ

March 22nd, 2012
1:00 pm

Thanks again Todd Van Poppell!!!!

perk

March 22nd, 2012
1:02 pm

helluva ball player!!!

Sonny Clusters

March 22nd, 2012
1:03 pm

“In the end, the famous Chipper pragmatism trumped human nature.” – MB

Ask Chipper if he’s pragmatic and see what he says.

ole dawg

March 22nd, 2012
1:05 pm

IMO… greatest Brave behind only The Hammer! I would greatly appreciate any and all a**holes keeping this blog clean today and paying tribute to a man that could have walked on us for more money several times during his career. A hell of a ballplayer and a nice guy! I met him in his 2nd or 3rd seasaon in the bigs and he was extremely nice to myself and my son. Autographed my son’s rookie baseball card. There is something special about a player when my current 14 year old daughter wears a Chipper jersey to games and he is her favorite player. Ironically I think Chipper just sold a bunch of tickets this season for the team that he has been so loyal to. THANK YOU CHIPPER JONES for 20 good years and good memories!!! Enjoy your curtain call this season.

ole dawg

March 22nd, 2012
1:07 pm

… and Herschel Talker, you are a Know It All Dumba** that couldn’t carry Chipper’s jock strap!!!

Tami

March 22nd, 2012
1:09 pm

I want to be one of the first to thank Chipper for his loyalty and dedication to the Braves, and for his selflessness on and off the field. May his last season be one in which he goes out on top – personal goals for one (and championships, hopefully), and may it be one of the greatest years of his life. Now…I’ll just sit back, reflect appreciatively, and watch the very LAST active Brave from the 1995 championship season play out his final year. We’ll never see anyone else wear #10 on the Braves’ team.

Sly Boarders

March 22nd, 2012
1:09 pm

I think Mark Bradley IS Sonny Clusters. You never see them together…

Nebraska Brave

March 22nd, 2012
1:21 pm

It has been a great run for Hoss. Playing for the money, NO. He played the last few years because he loves the game, wanted to see if the Braves could squeak out another World Series. To those who think he played for the money the last few years. Imagine trying to let go of your careers – picking up that last garbage can, greeting that last WalMart Customer, cleaning that last toilet. Oh never mind you’ll never understand as Chipper was lucky (good) enough to play a sport, do what every, or most, kids dream of. My son’s a good ball player and at 17 he wants to make it to the next level (college) and play ball, not for a scholarship, but because he loves playing.

I remember so many times when Chipper would be “struggling” and then he would go on a tear and hit 10 homers in 2 or so weeks. It was a sight to see.

Chipper You will be missed. Thanks for the Memories.

Sonny Clusters

March 22nd, 2012
1:23 pm

If Chipper thought he had pragmatism he’d be on the DL right now. We thank him for his service and we wish him well and we think this opens up some opportunities for some folks and some statues and some deer. If we was an investor we’d buy some stock in tree stands and ammunition makers and we’d see if we could sign Chipper up to be a spokesdeer for our company. Getting blinded by the lights was the first sign that he was coming over to the deer side.

stevie zero

March 22nd, 2012
1:24 pm

chip is the epitome of a classic ballplayer. the last link to the greatness of the “braves era”. i will relish every game this year, and i appreciate everything hes done for our team. and MB is certainly correct that he is going out at exactly the right time. have one hell of a year chipper and thank you

Skeezix

March 22nd, 2012
1:27 pm

He is one of my all time favorite Braves. I am sure those knees are very painful every time he plays. To me his swing is to baseball what the late Payne Stewart’s was to golf. Rhythmic, smooth, with minimal effort.

Fortunately, I got to see both of them play in their prime.

Sonny Clusters

March 22nd, 2012
1:28 pm

If we was Frank Wren we’d be getting some signs printed for the outfield about now. There has to be a farewell tour and we was thinking what we’d want to give Chipper if we was offering a tribute to his playing days and his non-playing because he had some symptoms days. We was thinking we might bronze third base and give it to him but then we thought, “why not bronze his glove instead?” and then we thought maybe somebody already bronzed it and that’s what’s been wrong in the field for awhile. It’s hard to field a ball with a bronzed glove.

HometownFan

March 22nd, 2012
1:29 pm

Well said Bradley. Thanks for the memories Chipper, you are one of the all time greats!

Mark in ATL

March 22nd, 2012
1:31 pm

Greatest Atlanta Brave of all time imho….Yes Hank is the greatest Brave but he only spent a small portion of his career here in the south. The pitchers were great but none of them spent their entire career here.

Sonny Clusters

March 22nd, 2012
1:44 pm

“With toenails trimmed, our new-look NCAA live chat is a go! Join me, won’t you?” AJC Blog headline

We was reading that headline and remembered last year at spring training when Chipper reported with ingrown toenails and had to miss some time while they was healing. And we was thinking it was probably poor Jeff Porter that had to trim ‘em and how nasty that must have been but a trainer has to do what a trainer has to do. Hunting boots can cause toenail problems and toenail problems can cause ballplayer problems. One thing about retirement is that there’s plenty of time for good toe hygiene.

wreckbuzz

March 22nd, 2012
1:52 pm

Seriously, the man played baseball at a high level in Atlanta for 17+ years and the parting words you give him are kudos for not screwing up his retirement?

Talk about his great play, leadership or unselfishness (reworking deals and signing a hometown discount) but who cares about when he goes that much?

dean

March 22nd, 2012
1:55 pm

What DePort said @ 1250.

And Sonny: GFY.

Hollywould

March 22nd, 2012
1:55 pm

Great Brave/ gives it all he has/ let’s go out on top Chip!!

Concerned

March 22nd, 2012
1:57 pm

Chipper has been some kind of player, and he also has grown as a man. It will be a short season as so mnay will want to attend the final games. I will make it a point to go to several games in honor of Chipper.

Thank you Chipper for the great poise with which you have played the game. I also have not seen the likes of many as smooth as you have played the game. Brooks Robinson and Willie Mays come to mind as cornerstones of baseball for the way the played.

It needs to be acknowledged that the Braves are one of the few if the only franchise who functions in the exeplary manner. This is also a testimate to Chipper, and his lack of greed. It is rare that we see this type of relationship in sports. The Braves organization says family to me, and the GMs of the past and present are top shelf. Yes we would like the go back to the World Series, and watch this team soar as they collectively come together to do what only great passion can and will accomplish.

It should be one awesome Braves’ season, and I cannot wait.

Stinger2

March 22nd, 2012
2:00 pm

Clusters: Why can you not stop the slurs now that he has made the announcement you wanted to hear. You are very insensitive in these comments you have made today about one of the greatest players the Braves have every had. Thanks for nothing.

brandon

March 22nd, 2012
2:03 pm

Thank you Chipper for all the memories and for the one’s that are upcoming this season. You’ll always be the truest Brave of any Brave!

Lewis Grizzard's Ghost

March 22nd, 2012
2:03 pm

It’s time to add the Captain’s “C” To Chipper Jones’ jersey …

What would Bisher say?

March 22nd, 2012
2:05 pm

I’m with Lewis, name him Captain … Selah

Appalachia Brave

March 22nd, 2012
2:06 pm

Thanks Chip…I’m just sorry you got stuck with a bunch of front office bums…and bad ownership. But congrats on a great career.

Hillbilly D

March 22nd, 2012
2:07 pm

Even though I got slammed for saying it on another board, I won’t be surprised if he changes his mind before it’s over. He’s done it before and personally, I think they’ll have to tear the uniform off of him.

Sonny Clusters

March 22nd, 2012
2:20 pm

Stinger2 now would be a good time to get you fitted for a deer tattoo in honor of your boy. Do they make those tattoos small enough to fit on girly arms like yours? We was thinking you post about us about every time we post and we was wondering if you are a stalker? If you was thinking anything like that you should know that Clusters can sense when a sissy is about to strike and we are lightning quick so we think we could get out of the way before you could throw your pom poms at us. Golly, Gee, Wow! Super! Fans don’t always agree on what being a “fan” is all about and that’s good because cheerleading is important, too. But we don’t pay to cheerlead. We want to see some good baseball. Super!

DetroitBraves

March 22nd, 2012
2:25 pm

Absolutely fantastic player. I think more people will appreciate what he’s done in time. ESPN has an article up where they conclude he is the 2nd best third baseman of all-time behind Mike Schmidt. While good arguments can be made for Brett and Mathews ahead of Chipper we’re still talking about a top 5 guy over the long history of this game. It’s rare to have that kind of talent. The Braves have been fortunate for a long time.

JoshTown

March 22nd, 2012
2:26 pm

Great article, Mark!

..An inmate at a correctional facility

March 22nd, 2012
2:30 pm

Bye. Should have retired 3 years ago. Unless he changes his mind (like he did in 2010)…we wont have to worry about paying $14 mil (if he were to reach his max game incentives this year, guaranteeing another year of Chipper stealing money) for an over the hill, broken down, cant stay healthy, the range of a snail playing third base in 2013.

With Lowe’s $10 mil (the Indians are paying $5 mil of Lowe’s $15 mil salary) and Chipper’s $14 mil coming off the books at the end of this season….that will give the Braves at least $24 mil to improve our offense during the off season.

We are going to have a long 2012 season. Jurrjens, Hanson and Hudson have injury issues. Teheran and Delgado are Triple A pitchers who are very hittable at the Major League level. Our middle relief is going to get taxed….because they will be eating up a lot of innings in the middle of the game.

A “bright” spot is that it looks like Kimbrel, Venters and O’Flaherty wont have to worry about being overworked in 2012. There wont be a lot of leads to protect.

Other than Bourn, Uggla and McCann (if he can stay healthy)….our offense is going to SUCK!!!!!!!!!

We’re going to lose Bourn after this season to free agency…so that will mean we’ll have another $7 mil to add to the $24 mil that will be freed up at the end of 2012.

BillyRay

March 22nd, 2012
2:30 pm

I’m a Sonny Clusters fan, but not today. Maybe tomorrow, but today I’ll say thanks to Chipper and wish him good luck.

Ostrich Racer

March 22nd, 2012
2:32 pm

AVG G AB R H HR RBI OBP SLG

E. Mathews .271 2391 8537 1509 2315 512 1453 .376 .509

C. Jones .304 2387 8597 1561 2615 454 1561 .402 .533

‘Nuff said.

Stinger2

March 22nd, 2012
2:35 pm

Clusters: Your “funny stuff” is out of order here. This is an important and significant announcement about one of the greatest Braves player ever. Everyone has a right to their opinion about him. However, why not at least have enough respect to let him go without keeping on and on with negative and unnecessary comments. Everyone has heard the same old from you for years about Chipper

GT Alum

March 22nd, 2012
2:39 pm

I’ll concede that it’s not easy to stop doing a thing you’ve done most of your life, a thing you started doing not because it was profitable but because it was fun. If someone came to me and said, “Bradley, you need to quit because your famous fat paragraphs are getting as overstuffed as Grady Jackson,” I wouldn’t like it. I’d dig in my heels. I’d push back, as the vernacular has it.

Haven’t readers been telling you that for years?