Chipper Jones’ final major league at-bat came at the perfect time. It was the last chance for the Atlanta Braves to avoid being eliminated from the one-game National League Wild Card Playoff against the St. Louis Cardinals.
With two outs in the bottom of the ninth inning, trailing 6-3, Chipper Jones stepped up to the plate. Barring a big two-out rally, he was there to say goodbye to the sport he has embodied for the greater part of the past two decades.
Can you picture a more exciting, more fitting and more appropriate finish for the 19-year Atlanta Braves veteran? Even more incredible is that Jones played all of those 19 seasons with the Atlanta Braves.
Jones reached on an infield single in which Cardinals’ first baseman Allen Craig was pulled off the bag after an acrobatic catch and throw by second baseman Daniel Descalso.
In his final regular-season at-bat against the Pittsburgh Pirates, Jones pinch hit in the sixth inning and drove a first-pitch single into right field. He ended up scoring later in the inning, his last time crossing home plate as an Atlanta Brave and professional baseball player.
Today’s MLB landscape is filled with lavish free agency spending and extremely high roster turnover. Because of that, Jones’ loyalty and commitment to the Braves is a phenomenal accomplishment by itself.
Braves fans, now in their adulthood, grew up rooting for and idolizing their beloved third baseman.
While his loyalty and consistency gave the fans a face of their franchise for so long, he offered a lot more than just his never-wavering allegiance.
For his career, the former No. 1 overall pick in the 1990 amateur baseball draft lived up the hype. He ended it Friday with a .303 average and 468 home runs. His career OPS of .930 tells the tale of an efficient and incredible ballplayer who won a World Series ring, a league MVP award, and a trip to eight all-star games.
And that still doesn’t do justice to the greatness that Jones exuded on the baseball diamond.
Players like Chipper Jones only come around once in a blue-moon. He’ll be remembered for being not only a great player, but also as the class-act that he was for the Braves for his long tenure as their third baseman.
Last but not least, he had a picture perfect swing that left you in awe after seeing its majesty; a swing so sweet from either side of the plate that it makes pure lefties and righties jealous of its perfection.
Yes, Chipper Jones was a humble and committed ballplayer who left the game on his own terms at 40 years of age. He’ll undoubtedly be enshrined in Cooperstown and secure his place in the annals of MLB history.
Mike Hoag Jr. is a Breaking News Team writer with Bleacher Report and also covers the NFL and the Cleveland Browns for the site.