Hannibal Courier - Post - Hannibal, MO
  • Diamond Dirt: Can't believe Chipper's done

  • It's hard to believe that Chipper Jones is retired, just a memory for baseball fans.
    Maybe it's because I was growing up during his 20 seasons of playing.
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  • Either I'm getting older or baseball players actually are human and not the superheroes we'd love for them to be.
    It's hard to believe that Chipper Jones is retired, just a memory for baseball fans.
    Maybe it's because I was growing up during his 20 seasons of playing.
    I can still remember when Chipper Jones came aboard on the Braves and he was just this young kid with flair and a cocky, mischievous half-grin on the side of his face. He was hardcore in the field diving left and right not afraid of anything. He was rapid out of the batter's box when he'd hit lasers off his bat.
    And how could you not like his name?
    Chipper Jones. Has a great, idolizing, heroic tone to it doesn't it?
    Only in baseball can a nickname become a man's well-known identity in the public eye. You don't see that in any other sport.
    It still makes me laugh to know Chipper's real name is Larry Wayne Jones. I'll never forget laughing with my brothers upon discovering his real name on the back of one of his baseball cards we got as youngsters. We all thought if our name was Larry Wayne we'd want to be called Chipper too.But at the time we were kids, and didn't know any better. Our Midwest culture in a big city was naïve to a down home, southern name like Larry Wayne.
    I can still see Chipper diving at the last second for a foul ball in Game 4 of the 1996 National League Championship Series at Busch Stadium. I can't remember who was batting for the Cards, but the ball was hit straight up and no one could see it. At the last second Chipper saw the ball falling and just fell forward. It was a cross between a dive and a collapse. Despite how it looked, Chipper got the ball.
    There's a lot of discussion out there saying Jones is a Hall of Famer. Someday he may be, but I don't think he's a first ballot guy. He should certainly to be on the list of potential inductees for a while because there'll be better players to consider. Truthfully I don't think Chipper has a shot at the Hall of Fame unless he's voted in by the Veterans Committee.
    What makes Chipper stand out is his 20-season career with one team. He started out as a well-known kid, made his way up as one of the team's most popular players and eventually became the face of the organization.
    His career looks good because the Braves had so many good years and he was successful as a player. But considering the Hall of Fame is all about numbers these days, and I don't think Chipper has the career numbers to validate a plaque in Cooperstown as soon as he's eligible. He'll get in some point, just not right away.
    Page 2 of 2 - Still, it's hard to believe there'll be no more Chipper Jones in the field. Through my youth to now as a man, No. 10 has always been there and always been a topic of conversation when it comes to the Atlanta Braves. Next season will no doubt feel different.
    Follow on Twitter: @DominicGenetti #DiamondDirt
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