Chipper

by pastortimfowler

This may be my least read blog ever, because it is about baseball. Baseball is not as popular as it use to be and most women could care less about it, so some may tune out before the end. Okay, but its your loss. You know you want to read it anyway.
I grew a block from a minor league baseball stadium in my town and my dad was a big baseball fan and took me to every home game. I got hooked early and because there was not a major league team in my area, Atlanta was the closest and I adopted them as my team. Although they did not have great teams when I was little, they had many great players. I saw Hank Aaron hit home runs # 714, 715, and his last 755. I saw pitcher Phil Niekro get ejected from games for scuffing the ball and saw him through knuckle balls that needed no scuffing. I saw Dale Murphy play and was glued to the TV when Sid Breem slid into home plate to complete the worst to first season that started decade of domination in baseball. There have been a lot of great people play for the Braves but few who will ever match Chipper Jones, #10.
I saw Chipper play in the minor leagues in Greenville SC in 1992 and followed his career in the major leagues. He did what few ever do anymore and that is stay with the same team for his whole career. So when I heard that he was retiring this year, I bought tickets to see the last regular season home game he would play in Atlanta and yesterday I got to see him play one last time. It was really cool to be there and see the amount of admiration for this guy from fans, his teammates, and other players from other teams. He is a class act.
Not only is he a great baseball player, he lived his public life with few embarrassing moments. For someone who always has a camera and a microphone around you, that can be tough. With the exception of an incident of infidelity, there were no moments of meltdowns or public humiliation of self and team or the game. I will address that one incident in a minute, but in an age of steroid use and gambling problems and egotistical superstars who say stupid things to get attention, Chipper is a class act.
He put team first. I never heard an interview, including the one yesterday after the game, when he did not give credit to his teammates, coaches, and fans. It was never about how awesome he was or how great he played, it was about the team winning and the fans getting to enjoy it. I never saw him hit a home run, and there we plenty, and have him put on a show or do a dance or point a gotcha finger at the other team. When he was taunted be opposing team’s fans he never lashed out at them, but rather smiled and let his actions on the field do the talking. I never saw him talk down about his coach and blame someone else when he was not performing well. He just played the sport and let things happen as they may. He did not shop around with other teams every year to get the highest pay. He was well paid and rightfully so, but he remained loyal to one team his entire career.
And then there was that one incident that made you realize that he was just as human as the rest of us. Several years ago the report came out that he was caught in an extra marital affair. Usually these have the tendency to become huge stories for public figures. There are normally denials, cover ups, and then, admissions to try to calm down the firestorms. But Chipper handled things differently. He admitted it publicly, handled it privately, apologized immediately, and played baseball without mixing his private life with his profession. Not a bad example of how to handle a major screw up from a celebrity.
So I like Chipper Jones as a baseball player. I like Chipper Jones a public figure. He was humble. I like Chipper Jones as a person. He was real. So I thought I would blog about him today because too many celebrities are none of the above and the example they give to our younger generation leaves a lot to be desired. I think that we can learn about loyalty and humility and passion, and work ethic and even how to get back up when you fall down from his career as a major league baseball player.
The number 10 often represents a perfect score. In reality, no one can achieve perfection. Some celebrities live like they think they are perfect and then there are those like Chipper, who wore #10 on his jersey, who knew that he was not perfect but worked as though he was trying to get there. I think he was a class act. Thanks Chipper! Good luck in retirement.

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