Fan Take: What Braves' Chipper Jones Has Meant to Baseball
The Atlanta Braves have one of the most diverse fan bases in all of baseball because of their location in the south, and also because of the TV deal they had with TBS (Both entities owned by Ted Turner in the 90s). There are Braves fans everywhere throughout the US, much like the Yankees and Red Sox, only with less frontrunners. The mid 90s- early 00s Braves dynasty was brought upon by great pitching and timely hitting, mostly by 1st ballot Hall of Famer Larry Wayne “Chipper” Jones.
I grew up in the 90s, so I grew attached to all of the things Chipper brought to the table, such as the unique ability to switch hit (and hit well from both sides), his athleticism at third base (he was drafted as a shortstop), but what I liked most about him as a kid and little leaguer was how he wore his socks high.
Very few baseball players wore their pant legs up so their socks could show, partly because it was outdated and looked slightly ridiculous. Chipper wore them this way as a tribute to his favorite player Mickey Mantle. So wanting to emulate my idol, I also wore my pant legs high in little league, then in high school, then during college ball.
All the while, Chipper kept the same look as he switched positions from third, to left field, and back to third. He switched batting stances, went through a myriad of injuries including tearing the same ACL twice, and went through numerous slumps throughout his 20 year career. The one thing that never changed was his desire to remain an Atlanta Brave. He could have made millions of dollars more elsewhere if he decided to pursue free agency and allowed the greed that permeates Major League Baseball to influence him, but that’s not what Chipper Jones was about.
Chipper Jones was never as feared a hitter as Albert Pujols or Alex Rodriguez were in their primes. He never had the unlimited talent and potential that up and comers Justin Upton and Mike Trout do. But Chipper Jones will go down as more beloved than any of those players because of one thing, his old school mentality.
He is the last of a dying breed of baseball players. Baseball players who would fight for the name on their jersey, players that are not judged by how much money they make, but what they mean to their teams success. Bobby Cox’s Atlanta Braves teams would do anything for the success of their club, whether it be moving Chipper from perennial All Star third baseman to left field so they could acquire Vinny Castilla, moving John Smoltz from injured starter to league leading closer and back again, to Martin Prado playing basically every position on the diamond. That’s what embodies a baseball team, and what makes a team endearing to fans.
Chipper Jones embodies the last of Americas former pastime, which has since given way to football. He is a hero to all Braves fans, a first ballot Hall of Famer, and what is probably the last remaining player who values the name on the front of a jersey more than the number on the paycheck.
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