Chipper showing his appreciation during a memorable final season
Remember the concern some of you expressed when you learned Chipper Jones would miss the start of the season recovering from yet another knee surgery. Well other than the fact that the Braves lost each of the four games he ended up missing, that did not end up being that big of a deal.
Then when Jones consistently proved successful during the early weeks, I was among those who expressed concern about the fact that the Braves might be relying too heavily on their 40-year-old third baseman. Well, four months later, he’s still producing and the Braves do not seem to be relying on him as much as they are simply happy to be the direct benefactors of his magical season.
At some point over the next six weeks, I’ll take time to rank some of the greatest memories Jones has created since joining the Braves organization in 1990. Or if he maintains his current pace, we might only have time to reminisce about this year’s special moments.
It was cool to see Jones homer in his first game this year and again in his first home game of the season. Watching him go deep at Dodger Stadium on his birthday was every bit as cool as seeing him end the incredible May 2 game against the Phillies with a walk-off home run. Then there was the five-hit game against the Cubs on July 3 and the single he recorded in his only at-bat during his final All-Star Game.
But for now, I’d have to say the most incredible memories Jones has created this season were produced during Thursday night’s two-homer performance against the Padres. Notching his 40th career multi-homer game at the age 40 is special. But the magnitude of Thursday’s game was a product of the fact that Jones stood at his locker and acknowledged the fact that he is already attempting to savor every remaining opportunity he has to acknowledge those fans who have supported him through the years.
Most of the fans that flocked to Turner Field on Thursday night did so with the incentive to secure the final Chipper Jones bobblehead doll. Through the power of Twitter, he had a sense of how much the night meant to some of those fans. And in typical Chipper fashion, he did not disappoint.
Jones said he did not notice the rousing ovation he received before his first at-bat. But after hitting his two-run home run in the first inning off Jason Marquis, he was so worked up that he spilled a cup of water down the front of his jersey before answering a curtain call.
Four innings later, he homered again and answered yet another curtain call.
Those kind words Jones expressed before and after Thursday’s game about the fans were genuine. His thoughts, words and actions provide every indication that he is enjoying this final season as much as these fans are.