Chipper set for ceremonies on Friday
Braves legend to be inducted into team Hall of Fame, have No. 10 retired
ATLANTA -- Chipper Jones has played over 200 more games than any other player in the history of Turner Field, the place Jones called home during the final 16 seasons of his illustrious career with the Braves.
This stadium was where he essentially locked up his 1999 National League Most Valuable Player Award with home runs on three consecutive late-September days against the Mets. It was where he also delighted the hometown faithful with a home run during the 2000 All-Star Game.
While Atlanta-Fulton County Stadium might have been his first Major League home, Turner Field was the place where Jones established himself as a legend. Over the course of two decades, he lived up to tremendous expectations and proved to be one of the greatest players to ever don a Braves uniform.
Twenty years after making his big league debut, Jones will return to Turner Field to officially be immortalized alongside other Braves legends. He will be inducted into the club's Hall of Fame on Friday afternoon, then have the unique honor of seeing his No. 10 jersey retired during a ceremony before Friday night's game against the D-backs. The pregame ceremony will be streamed live on braves.com.
"I think every time I walk in that stadium from now on, I'll look up there and I'll be in disbelief," Jones said. "I think if I were to walk in there every day and see it, I might get used to it. But now that I don't walk in there every day, it's still going to be hard for me to believe."
Through the end of the 2008 season, the Braves had retired the jersey numbers of just five players -- Hank Aaron (44), Eddie Mathews (41), Warren Spahn (21), Phil Niekro (35) and Dale Murphy (3). These were the players that served as inspiration to Jones dating back to when Atlanta selected him with the first overall pick in the 1990 First-Year Player Draft.
"I've looked up to those guys that are on that wall for so long, since the first day I stepped into Fulton County Stadium and saw Hank, Eddie, Murph, Knucksie and Spahny up there," Jones said. "I dreamed of seeing No. 10 up there and that has been 20 years in the making. To say I put those guys on a pedestal is an understatement. To think that dream is now going to come true, that is hard for me to believe."
This marks the fifth straight year the Braves have retired the number worn by one of the key figures that fueled the unprecedented success enjoyed during the 1990s, when the club won the 1995 World Series championship, made five overall World Series appearances and began a run of 14 consecutive division titles that concluded in 2005.
Over the past four years, Jones has proudly watched the Braves retire the jersey numbers of Greg Maddux (31), Tom Glavine (47), Bobby Cox (6) and John Smoltz (29). Now it is his turn to celebrate the honor bestowed upon his former teammates.
Jones has the unique honor of being the only member of this group to have played his entire career for the organization. The Braves won 12 division titles and participated in the postseason 13 times while he was at the big league level.
Jones participated in 93 of the 162 postseason games the Braves have played. He marked his introduction to October baseball by hitting two home runs in Game 1 of the 1995 NL Division Series against the Rockies.
"I think everybody who is a part of Braves Country, their fondest memories of being a Braves fan are the 1990s -- from worst to first in '91 and our last World Series appearance in '99," Jones said. "I'm kind of the last face from that decade. We had a good run and I'm very proud of my teammates, my manager and my coaches in all that we accomplished over the past 20 years."
As this week progressed, Jones' anticipation grew as Twitter provided him a sense of the excitement fans have displayed leading up to Friday. He will share this moment with his parents and each of his four sons, who will be on the stage with him during the pregame ceremony.
"I'm glad I got them all here," Jones said. "Any time they get a chance to walk out there on a field in front of 40 or 50,000 people, they light up like a Christmas tree."
Five years from now, Jones will likely once again have a chance to assemble his family for the greatest celebration of his career. As one of the greatest switch-hitters and third basemen to ever play the game, he appears to be a cinch to be a first-ballot Hall of Famer when he becomes eligible for induction into Cooperstown in 2018.
Jones amassed many impressive credentials during a career that included eight All-Star selections, two Silver Slugger Awards, a batting title and an MVP Award. But the most significant stat is the one that puts him in the company of four of the most distinguished legends in baseball history.
Jones stands with Stan Musial, Babe Ruth, Ted Williams and Lou Gehrig as the only players in Major League history to record at least 2,500 hits, 1,500 walks, 1,500 runs, 500 doubles, 450 home runs and 1,500 RBIs, while hitting .300 with a .400 on-base percentage and .500 slugging percentage.
"I told him at last year's All-Star Game, 'Five years from now, I'll see you at Cooperstown with [Mike] Schmidt, [Brooks] Robinson and all the other third basemen,'" Hall of Fame third baseman George Brett said. "We need another one in there. It will be good to have another one join our ranks."
Mark Bowman is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.