LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. – Chipper Jones had imagined many times what it would be like to have his No. 10 hanging on the upper-deck facade at Turner Field, alongside the likes of Hank Aaron's No. 44, Dale Murphy's No. 3 and Greg Maddux's No. 31. He won't have to wait much longer.
The Braves announced Tuesday they will retire Jones' jersey and induct him into their team Hall of Fame on June 28.
“It’s a tremendous honor," said Jones, an eight-time All-Star and 1999 National League MVP. "There’s a lot of great names, lot of great numbers up there on that façade, and I’d be lying if I said I didn’t dream about one day trying to get No. 10 up there. This morning it comes to fruition. So it’s a very proud day for myself and my family. Kind of lets us know that all those mornings, afternoons and evenings on the fields in Pierson, Fla., paid off.”
Before retiring after the 2012 season, Jones became one of the most recognizable figures in Atlanta while playing his entire 19-year career for the Braves. He finished with a .303 batting average, .401 on-base percentage, 468 home runs and 1,623 RBIs, statistics that could earn him first-ballot selection to the National Baseball Hall of Fame when he's eligible after a five-year waiting period.
The only switch-hitter in major league history to have at least a .300 batting average and 300 home runs, Jones won the 2008 NL batting title with a .364 average at age 36.
“Just kind of a wave of emotions comes over you," he said of hearing the news. "You always dream about that stuff. When it actually comes true, there’s just this wave that comes over you, kind of disbelief and reflection of, where has it all gone? It happened so quick. It’s 19 years, but it seems now like it went by in a flash.
“But I guess what we all want to do is try and leave our mark. This is certainly a good indication that you left your mark.”
His number will be the 10th retired by the Braves during a presentation prior to the June 28 game against Arizona at Turner Field. He’ll be inducted into the Braves Hall of Fame during a luncheon that day at the Atlanta Marriott Marquis.
Jones ranks first on Atlanta Braves franchise career lists in 11 offensive categories, and second in eight others.
“Chipper was a Brave from the beginning to the end of his career and his legacy will forever live in our record books,” Braves president John Schuerholz said. “There is no greater honor that we can bestow upon him than to induct him into our Hall of Fame and retire his iconic number 10.”
The Braves have previously retired the jerseys of Aaron, Murphy, Maddux, Eddie Mathews (41), Phil Niekro (35), Warren Spahn (21), Tom Glavine (47), Bobby Cox (6) and John Smoltz (29). All major league teams also retired No. 42 to honor Jackie Robinson.
Jones, who'll be 41 in April, has been at Braves spring training this week for a three-day stint as a guest instructor. He said the experience had only reinforced his feelings that it was time to retire and never play again.
"I don’t have any visions of grandeur, coming back in June, July, August, September," he said, quashing any speculation that he might be coaxed into a midseason comeback. "Honestly, I’ve put the cap on it and closed it tight. It’s not opening back up.
“I’m all right with it. As far as the accolades and whatever comes after you get done playing, that’s really out of my control. My motto in life is don’t worry about things you can’t control. What I can control is the resume that I put up, and that’s over."
Jones said he would miss being around the guys and especially playing the games. But not the preparation that went into getting ready to play, especially after all the injuries and surgeries, including two knee surgeries in the past two years.
“I thought this week would be tough," he said. "But I stand out there while they’re taking ground balls and I don’t really miss it. I’m standing behind the cage watching them face live pitching, I see someone hit a ball off the end of the bat and I know how that feels; your fingers just completely go numb. And I don’t miss that. And when they’re conditioning at the end of the day and they’re running and they’re huffing and puffing, I don’t miss it.
“I miss the camaraderie with the guys, with the coaches. I miss the everyday banter. And I’d be lying if I wasn’t going to miss the 7-10 (p.m.) when the games start. It’s all the other stuff that you have to endure during the course of a season that I’m over. So, like I said, I’m OK with it. I’ve come to grips with it.”
Tickets will be available for the June 28 game beginning Monday at www.braves.com/tickets, the Braves ticket office at Turner Field, at any Ticketmaster outlet, or by calling Ticketmaster at 1-800-745-3000. Individual tickets for the Braves Hall of Fame luncheon and induction ceremony are available at braves.com/tickets. For tables of 10, or for more detailed information, please call 404-614-2310.
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