Jeter on Chipper: ‘One of the greatest ever to play the game’

The Derek Jeter of the American League greets the Derek Jeter of the National League. Much respect all around.

The Derek Jeter of the American League greets the Derek Jeter of the National League. Much respect all around.

Sometimes familiarity really does breed contempt. Sometimes it takes a visitor to remind us locals how good we have it. This was Derek Jeter, speaking Tuesday about Chipper Jones: “A lot of time consistency gets overlooked. I’m not saying people in Atlanta don’t appreciate him, but you probably appreciate him a little bit more not being here.”

And maybe you do. If you judge by the squeaky-wheel comments on AJC.com, Chipper Jones has become the Braves’ albatross: Too old, too frail, too high-salaried. But here you had the most respected player in the sport addressing the man who might be, at least within baseball itself, the second-most respected. Here you had Jeter, who’s 37, fairly gushing over Chipper, who’s 40 and who will retire at season’s end.

Jeter: “I always admired Chipper. I followed him a lot in the minor leagues … I used [Chipper's early struggles] as [proof]  someone was able to turn things around.”

Struggles? Well, yeah. We forget now, but the first player taken in the 1990 draft made 56 errors playing shortstop in the Class A Sally League in 1991. Two years later, another shortstop — this one taken sixth overall in 1992 — would make the same number of  errors in the same Sally League.

Parallel lines: Come 1995, Chipper Jones was a world champion and almost the National League rookie of the year. Come 1996, Derek Jeter was a world champion and the American League rookie of the year. And on they would go, Jones winning MVP in 1999 and a batting title at age 36, Jeter winning MVP of the 2000 All-Star Game (staged at Turner Field) and the 2000 World Series, both on the express train to Cooperstown from almost the moment they arrived in the majors.

Jeter on Chipper: “He’s a Hall of Famer. He’s someone who will go down as one of the greatest ever to play the game. All the accolades, he deserves. All the good things, he deserves.”

Chipper on Jeter: “He’s such a great face for baseball. He’s like Cal Ripken. He deserves everything he gets.”

There was a time when Jones was less enamored of Jeter. His Yankees snatched the 1996 World Series from the Braves, and in 1999 they executed a nearly effortless sweep. (Without Andres Galarraga and Javy Lopez, the ‘99 Braves went as far as they did only because Chipper went Superman on the other New York team.)

Chipper: “I had a dislike for DJ — more like a jealousy.But once I got a chance to know him, that changed completely.”

It changed because they were teammates on Team USA in the World Baseball Classic of 2006 and 2009, and class gravitated to class. Chipper on Jeter: “He’s humble beyond belief, even though he’s got every right to have his head in the clouds.”

For the record, the two have never discussed the infamous-in-Atlanta Game 4 of the 1996 World Series, the night the pinch-hitter Jim Leyritz turned on Mark Wohlers’ third-best pitch. Let the record reflect that Larry Wayne Jones Sr. once told Larry Wayne Jr.: “The Yankees stole Team of the ’90s from you.” Let the record also reflect that Jeter, five times a World Series winner, does not gloat.

“We were looking at all those flags {representing the run of 14 division titles] out there, and that’s pretty impressive,” he said. “It takes a lot of breaks to win a championship. We caught a lot of breaks through the years. Atlanta has a lot to be proud of.”

A few years ago, the then-ESPN analyst Steve Phillips called Chipper Jones “the Derek Jeter of the National League,” and the comparison was apt. Both were drafted to play shortstop. Both became pillars of consistent excellence. Unless the Yankees lose their mind, both will exit have worn only one team’s uniform, a rarity in the time of free agency. One will be remembered as the greatest switch-hitter of his era, the other as the most elegant Yankee since DiMaggio.

Speaking of Chipper, Jeter could easily have been speaking of himself: “When you watch him play, he looks like a baseball player — everything about him.”

Yep. And we in Atlanta have been fortunate to watch him every step of the way. But we should thank Derek Jeter for underscoring what we should have known all along.

And certainly the great Brave won’t begrudge the great Yankee one gentle jibe. “Chipper’s older than me,” Jeter said, smiling. “He’s been around a little bit longer. Make sure you get that.”

By Mark Bradley

138 comments Add your comment

TheOnlyBravesFan

June 15th, 2012
9:32 am

1st… great story Mark

TheOnlyBravesFan

June 15th, 2012
9:32 am

Mark Bradley

June 15th, 2012
9:35 am

Kudos indeed, TOBF.

John

June 15th, 2012
9:37 am

Great article. I really think alot of people that bash Chipper on here will be missing him when he is gone. Jeter is right.

Fredi Will Screw It Up Somehow

June 15th, 2012
9:40 am

Atlanta knows what Chipper has brought to this organization. Most of the angst goes toward the manager(s) and ownership. THEY are the ones that have let us down. It was a nice compliment from Jeter, but Torre, Girardi and the Steinbrenners are on another level than what we have experienced here.

Doom and Gloom

June 15th, 2012
9:43 am

Jeter to Chipper: “Yeah Dog, you are truly a hall of famer”

Chipper to Jeter: “Thanks! Let’s go to the Waffle House after the game”

Jeter to Chipper: “Cool, let me and my team get this sweep over with first, you will need the Allstar special with a double waffle after this azz beating”

TheOnlyBravesFan

June 15th, 2012
9:43 am

I’ll miss Chipper. And despite my dislike for the Yanks, I’ll miss Jeter too.

Oh man

June 15th, 2012
9:43 am

What are we going to do without Chipper next year?

that is a scary thought.

disbot3000

June 15th, 2012
9:43 am

I hate the Yankees as much as anybody (especially after they wiped the floor with us this week), but have always respected and appreciated Jeter. He’s just a great, classy player and his comments about Chipper just reinforce that view of him. Here’s hoping he has a successful finish to his career (except when playing the Braves, of course!)

lenzo G

June 15th, 2012
9:43 am

correction MB: The Chipper Jones of the American League greets the Chipper Jones of the National League. Much respect all around.

JSS

June 15th, 2012
9:44 am

You don’t need to “gloat” when you produce when actually counts…You can’t miss what’s never there…

snoopy

June 15th, 2012
9:45 am

You have to respect jeter for everything hes done, but still can’t stand the yankees.

S(n)oaring Hawk

June 15th, 2012
9:45 am

wow, great write….

Big C

June 15th, 2012
9:46 am

Chipper has been a very consistent player. I agree, some do take a great player like this for granted.

Bill Sirkin

June 15th, 2012
9:51 am

Maybe Chipper will come back as a hitting coach or bench coach ? His presence in the dugout has
clout.

flange1

June 15th, 2012
9:52 am

Good story Mark!

aceunderwood

June 15th, 2012
9:52 am

Very classy of Jeter. Chipper has been an amazing asset to the Braves. How many seasons has he carried us on his back? He’s done anything and everything asked of him to make the team a winner, from restructuring his contracts to changing positions….he’s always been about team. I, for one, will sure miss seein’ ol’ Hoss at 3rd…and I’ll be with my closest 45k friends at The Ted for that last game. I sure hope it’s a WS Game!

coachx

June 15th, 2012
9:55 am

We love ya Chipper !

Keep your head up during this tought time. Best wishes on finishing your last season strong and finding enjoyment in it.

OBAMA

June 15th, 2012
9:56 am

The stimulus is working!

Steve

June 15th, 2012
9:57 am

I hate the Yankees but Jeter = Class!

Fish Bisch

June 15th, 2012
9:57 am

I <3 chipper.
Now that he is available I would love to have his children too.

OTP

June 15th, 2012
9:57 am

Chipper Jones has been very good for the Braves. I do not think people realize how many times he made salary concessions, so they could try to use the money to make the team better. I bet his body hurts every day from what he has given to the team. He will be missed, and he should be regarded as one of the best players the team has ever had.

Tami

June 15th, 2012
9:59 am

I love this article. It’s hard to imagine that 16/17 years can go by as fast as it’s gone by, but I remember all of this as if it were yesterday. Now, Chipper’s on his way out, and Jeter won’t be too far behind him. We’ll have to wait and see if MLB gets two very special players as Chipper and Jeter playing at the same time again. There are some present players flirting with it, but it’s still not quite the same to me.

Atlanta Mom

June 15th, 2012
9:59 am

And it’s a fluke the Braves were able to draft Chipper. As I recall, they wanted a pitcher named Poppel, but that gentleman refused to sign with the Braves. So, the Braves went with second best. Mighty lucky on that draft.

Danny O

June 15th, 2012
10:01 am

A couple of class acts. Been fun to watch them play, even if only occasionally against each other.

JSS

June 15th, 2012
10:05 am

And before you Chipper apologists get on your annual soapbox, I’ve denied his ability to hit… He’s one of the best regular season hitters in the annals. That novelty of being on the three great switch hitters in the game is what it is… But that injury and fitness thing can’t be denied. Chipper will always be in the “why?” category. Why didn’t he stay healthy, why didn’t he get 3000 hits, why didn’t get 500 home runs, why didn’t he lead a team past their adversaries in multiple WS appearances? They are nagging questions with unpleasant answers…

JSS

June 15th, 2012
10:06 am

“never denied”

Chief Nocahoma

June 15th, 2012
10:09 am

I was at the game Wed night; every time Jeter was at bat, you could really hear the boos. My wife asked why the boos; I answered because he’s good, it’s respect.

Sonny Clusters

June 15th, 2012
10:15 am

“We were looking at all those flags {representing the run of 14 division titles] out there, and that’s pretty impressive,” he (Chipper) said. “It takes a lot of breaks to win a championship. We caught a lot of breaks through the years. Atlanta has a lot to be proud of.”

Championships? He should ask to see some of Jeter’s rings.

Danny O

June 15th, 2012
10:18 am

@ Sonny Clusters

That was a Jeter quote, you moron.

chris

June 15th, 2012
10:20 am

Two class acts..will be sad to see them both go soon, Chipper sooner than Jeter.. but its been great watching them play….question is who is behind them to take up their mantles?

wrestler

June 15th, 2012
10:20 am

Chipper was telling Jeter where he needs to go in Atlanta to find hot girls that he is not married to in that picture.

wrestler

June 15th, 2012
10:23 am

Personally I am ready for Chipper to go. I am tired of the Braves always having to find someone to play third when he gets hurt. Then when they get someone (like Prado who does an excellent job) Chipper comes back, the player like Prado, either gets put in left, sent back to Gwinnett or worse and then Chipper sucks for several games. Chipper gets hurt more than Evil Kenevil for crying out loud.

Hydro-Dawg

June 15th, 2012
10:24 am

We’re going to miss Chipper? We’re used to being gone half the season w injuries anyway!

Larry

June 15th, 2012
10:25 am

Chipper’s talent is undeniable, but he has from day one carried and air of arrogance and self-centeredness. However, as is always the case, this was simply a disguise of insecurity born of a questionable moral compass, as exemplified in his private behavior and what will soon be his 3rd wife probably in his 40’s.

He’d be on my all-time Braves starting lineup, but because I have an extra fondness and appreciation for the full package–great player; great individual–I’d pick Aaron and Murphy over him for a beer and a burger.

And would you witless and brainless dolts stop with the “he’s make a great coach or manager” vomit! Even Chipper himself has expressed little interest in this as he knows he’s not woven of the fabric–morally, ethically and demonstrably–to be a leader of men. And this is ever so evident now watching him on the bench all aloof and detached when his team needs him the most.

Coupled with that fatuously empty headed manager, this team is in dire straights, indeed.

Buster brave

June 15th, 2012
10:25 am

excellent article Mark Bradley.

JSS

June 15th, 2012
10:27 am

“First in their hearts, 2nd in baseball.” To paraphrase ‘That Championship Season’ look that one Danny O, keep ‘em coming Clusters…

southern boy

June 15th, 2012
10:30 am

After all these years, the damn yankees are still coming down south and screwing us. The sweep was painful to watch. We all saw Jones and Jeter smiling at each other–I would rather have seen some “fire in the eyes” about winning.

old dog

June 15th, 2012
10:31 am

I will miss Chipper at the plate, and when the time comes, I will miss Jeter also. I find I like almost all the yankee players, I just don’t care for their fans.

Preston Hannatized

June 15th, 2012
10:35 am

What’s going on? 2 Braves posts a day from the great MB? Obviously, the sports editors see the amount of traffic the Braves generate on the blog pages. Pretty soon, they will also come to grips with the fact that the bloggers are 85% negative, Fredi-haters, Wren-bashers.

The AJC has never been a “fire the guy” sports paper but it’s obvious that this manager and this GM have lost the plot.

The Braves are falling out of this race and will be sellers not buyers in six weeks.

It’s not time yet for the “Chipper” hosannas; save them for September.

Come on, Mark, deal with the truth: The Braves have to shake things up. Do something. Release Jack Wilson. The fan base would support firing Fredi. No playoffs and Wren goes too.

zombiewoof

June 15th, 2012
10:37 am

Can’t believe I’m saying these words, but, nice article Mark. I have a feeling that Jeter’s right regarding his comments that we’ll appreciate Larry much more when he’s not here. Look at this season’s record with and without Larry. Astonishing.

Dawg Haus

June 15th, 2012
10:42 am

Interesting comparison. I can’t stand the Yankees, but Jeter is definitely good people. I only wish that Chipper’s Braves teams could have enjoyed the level of success of Jeter’s Yankee teams.

Dawg Haus

June 15th, 2012
10:43 am

The thought of the Braves without #10 is a little depressing. Heart and soul of the team.

ACE

June 15th, 2012
10:50 am

While the AJC continues to churn out pro chipper blogs the braves fall further behind the Nats. When will someone question the decision making by management?

JRHD

June 15th, 2012
10:52 am

Chipper is a legend while still playing the game. Not many can say that. As for the Yankees, you can hate them all you want, but a team that has won 1/4 of all WS played is pretty awesome in my book.

MikeY

June 15th, 2012
11:03 am

We will be fine without Chipper next year. With Prado at 3B, we will be improved defensively. And with Chipper, Lowe, Bourn, Durbin, Hernandez, Diaz, Hinske, Wilson, and Ross all free agents, and with the likely dumping of Jurrjens salary, after we pay the required arbitration raises, we will have about $30M to sign a starting CF, starting LF, and to cover all those backups and relief pitchers required. We MIGHT even have enough to re-sign Bourn, sign a good LF, re-sign Diaz (rakes vs LHP) and Ross (also rakes vs LHP), and add some quality IF/OF backups and a couple of decent relief arms, if needed.

And in all this I am assuming we accept the 2013 options on Hudson and McCann.

I wish Chipper all the happiness in his retirement. But I really do look forward to 2013, I feel the team could be much improved over 2012. And we are pretty good in 2012…our chances of making the playoffs look good, I think it will depend on Fredi adjusting some of his strategies and on trades we may make as the deadlines approach. And Moylen, if he comes back strong, it would be a big improvement.

Greg Norton

June 15th, 2012
11:12 am

This is turning into a stormy bro-mance. Can I cut in?

Tech '10

June 15th, 2012
11:21 am

I feel real fortunate to have been able to watch chipper play all these years. I don’t care for the Yanks much, but I have nothing bad to say about Jeter.

Tim

June 15th, 2012
11:23 am

Great article on two of the greatest to play the game. I’m already saddened to think of the Braves after this year with no Chipper. As much as I dislike the Yankees, I do respect them. While A-Rod is a jerk, Jeter has always shown true class. He is a true professional.

Chad

June 15th, 2012
11:38 am

Chipper bashers are dumber than a bag of hammers,