Braves luminaries weigh in on Chipper's legacy
Team honors retiring Atlanta icon with pregame ceremony Friday at Turner Field
Over the course of the next week and through the portion of the postseason that includes the Braves, the baseball world will prepare to say goodbye to an iconic figure who appears destined to one day assume his rightful place in Cooperstown.
Twenty-two years after selecting Chipper Jones with the top overall selection in the 1990 First-Year Player Draft, the Braves are proud to still call him one of their own. They will take time Friday night to honor the 40-year-old third baseman's loyalty and greatness as he experiences his final regular-season home series in Atlanta.
Jones was a talented rookie when the Braves were crowned world champions in 1995, and he was the National League's MVP when they last visited the World Series in 1999. One of the greatest switch-hitters to ever play the game, he will forever be recognized as an iconic figure in Braves history.
Some other iconic figures in Braves history recently expressed their thoughts about Jones' career and contributions to baseball.
"He has always had a confidence and a determination that no matter how challenging the circumstances, he was up to the challenge. Remarkably as a young guy, he started to show that. You start to say, 'Wow, this is unique. He's not only a talented, physical guy, but he's got the makeup to want to be in those situations and deliver in those situations.
"If you go through all of the years he played for us, he did that for us every year. He fought through some injuries some years. But he did that for us every year. Now we're seeing it at the end in this final chapter of his career. As the book is getting ready to close, he has demonstrated for all of us that he can still do these things at age 40. In the most challenging and difficult circumstances, you can have reliability and confidence that Chipper will deliver the goods."
-- Braves president John Schuerholz
"For the years he was in the big leagues, he was certainly a Hall of Fame-type of player. What does that mean? He fulfilled all of the promises that everybody thought that he could. He hit. He played defense. He carried himself and did everything in a manner which you would be very happy about.
"That's the mark of a great ball player, that they can go from position to position and never miss a beat. That's what I'll remember most about Chipper. I remember them sticking him in out in the outfield. He signed as a shortstop. I don't know how many games he played at shortstop. But third base, I don't know of any third baseman who handled the position any better than he did."
-- Hall of Famer Hank Aaron
"It does not feel like the end right now. Who would ever think he would be playing this year with the knee surgeries and to play the way that he did? It takes a super talented, gutty and resilient guy at his age to do what he's doing.
"I love to watch Chipper play. I especially loved to see him run the bases when he was younger. I always thought he was the best baserunner in the National League. Just to watch him go first to third and all of that kind of stuff. He was fun to watch. And you know what I think of Chipper, he's really a smart player. He's really a smart hitter. He's an athlete. You could tell right away just looking at him."
-- Legendary Braves manager Bobby Cox
"To me, there are guys who play the game who understand a lot more than just what they do. Chipper understood one thing, what everybody was trying to do to him. He knew what every pitcher had done and what their tendencies were. He just knew unequivocally what everybody was going to do against him, and he was better than the pitcher."
-- Jones' longtime teammate John Smoltz
"The fact that he stayed with the Braves through his whole career is really significant and unique and appreciated by all of us and the fans in the organization. It's a tribute to him and the way he's handled his business. It's been a lot of fun to watch.
"The other thing I think about is his presence as a clutch hitter. I struck out a lot. I could go through some good streaks. But Chipper seems to always come through. He's a great clutch hitter. He was tough to pitch to because he's a switch-hitter. So many of his at-bats were just mini-clinics about how to hit."
-- Former Braves outfielder Dale Murphy
"I think everybody in baseball agrees that he is probably one of the finest third basemen to ever play the game all around. With his fielding, his hitting from both sides of the plate, his baserunning and his knowledge of the game, he knows the game very, very well.
"I know he's been playing hurt the last few years. Put another plus on his side for that. A lot of guys probably would have thrown the towel in. I'm sure he's not playing for the money now. I think he wants to go out a winner. This organization will truly miss him and he'll never be replaced.
-- Hall of Fame pitcher Phil Niekro
"He's done it all. What hasn't he done? He really has and it's been a remarkable career. I'm glad I was around at the very beginning. I remember all of the fuss made about Todd Van Poppel being the guy that they wanted [in the 1990 Draft]. Then Van Poppel said he wouldn't sign and so they took the second choice. Thank God that they did.
-- Longtime Braves broadcaster Pete Van Wieren
Mark Bowman is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.