The 2012 season will be Chipper Jones’ last, signifying for me a quaint full circle of baseball life. From a goofy-grinned rook to an over-the-hill vet, I had the pleasure of witnessing it all, and I can’t help but tip my cap to the future Hall of Famer for all he’s done throughout his career, on and off the field.
With that, here is what immediately enters my mind whenever his name comes up:
The 1995 Season
Infuriated by a silent October in ’94, I vehemently quit on Major League Baseball. I will have nothing to do with those crooked chumps! Who do they think they are taking away my Fall Classic!?!? Troglodytes the whole lot of ‘em!
Yeah, but… see, there’s this guy named Chipper. He’s with the Braves. He’s gonna be a superstar.
And he was. 23 bombs. 86 RBIs. And one cool stroke, from both sides of the plate. By the second half of the ’95 season, all had been forgiven and I was hoarding baseball cards of a man with a goofy name.
The 2008 Season and Media Guide Photo
Now a lot of stuff happened between 1995 and 2008, but I want to focus on the monster season Chipper had. I recall arguing here with my lugubrious and oft-crotchety colleague, Mr. Allen Krause, whether or not Chipper could realistically hit .400. He made a good run at it, but had to settle for .364, and in the process provided one of the worst media guide photos of all time:
All-Star Weekend 2009
I had the good fortune of attending the ASG in St. Louis and taking in all the awesome that comes with such an extravaganza. As you can imagine, heavy drinking was involved, and on the evening of July 13, at a seedy bar deep in the heart of Soulard, I was an accomplice to my friend losing a $100 bar bet on whether or not Chipper played any significant time at any other position than third base during his career. I found out it only takes a few vodka bombs to forget that Chipper spent a some years manning left field for the Bravos. I think my pal has forgiven me for that absentmindedness. Now if only we could remember how we ended up in Sauget smelling like frosting, covered in glitter.
Yes, I’d say Chipper had a brilliant career, even if the last few years have looked more like an AH-64 Apache helicopter crash after attempting to push its limit. What’s THAT look like? Glad ya asked!