Chipper’s Farewell Tour arrives in Pittsburgh
One of those experiences that falls in the “unforgettable” category occurred when the Braves were in Houston at the end of the 2007 season for the final series of Craig Biggio’s career. A lifelong Astro, Biggio was shown an overwhelming amount of love every time he took the field or came to the plate that weekend.
As Chipper Jones watched the events unfold, he wondered what it would be like to be on the receiving end of this kind of love.
He found out this past weekend.
More than 150,000 fans showed up this past weekend to celebrate Jones’ final regular season series in Atlanta and allow the veteran third baseman to know how much they appreciated all that he had done during his storied Major League career. The fans gave him standing ovations before every at-bat and his teammates gave him the honor of taking the field by himself before the start of two of the games.
When Jones took the field yesterday, I looked for his parents and saw his mother dabbing her eyes with a tissue. Might have been one of my favorite scenes from the entire weekend. You could not help to watch this unfold without thinking about the fact that she had made many of the same sacrifices that our parents had as we all pursued our dreams during childhood.
But that’s enough of the emotional stuff. It’s time to start looking at what is in store as we find ourselves in Pittsburgh for the final regular season portion of Chipper’s Farewell Tour.
Based on what was seen in the airport this morning and on the streets this afternoon, it seems safe to assume a number of Braves fans will converge on PNC Park this week for Chipper’s final three regular season games.
One fan I met while boarding my flight this morning was a young man who came from South Korea just to see the final games of Chipper’s career. He was in Atlanta this weekend and will be present for the three games against the Pirates. His travel plans will allow him to stay in the United States through the early portion of the National League Championship Series.
Manager Fredi Gonzalez was leaning toward not playing Jones in today’s series opener against the Pirates. But he wasn’t able to convince Jones that he needed to rest. With the possibility that the Braves could still win the National League East, Jones is determined to stay in the lineup. This is the seventh straight game for Chipper, who played in each of the six games during his final homestand.
With the playoffs approaching, the 40-year-old veteran could benefit from a break at some point this week. But he’s motivated by the chance to win the division and please the fans who continue to come to the stadium to watch him play.
Jones created some memorable moments during his earliest experiences in Pittsburgh. He has gone exactly 4-for-4 five times during his career. Two of those five occasions were the first two games he played in Pittsburgh on July 12, 1995 and July 24, 1995. (Might have had something to do with being a Steelers fan playing in Three Rivers Stadium).
The baseball gods then started getting even as Jones went 0-for-5 in the third game he ever played in Pittsburgh. But the then-rookie third baseman came back and went 3-for-5 in his next road game against the Pirates. To give you a sense of how long ago all of this occurred, he recorded each of those three hits against Danny Darwin.