From ‘Ballplayer’: When Chipper Jones told his wife about extramarital affairs

Chipper Jones played all his 19 major league seasons with the Atlanta Braves.

Credit: Rich Addicks

Credit: Rich Addicks

Chipper Jones played all his 19 major league seasons with the Atlanta Braves.

This excerpt from Chapter 16 of “Ballplayer” details the conversation Chipper Jones had with his first wife, Karin Jones, during the 1997 season when he came clean with her that he’d had an extramarital affair that would result in the birth of his first son, Matthew. Ballplayer” by Chipper Jones and Carroll Rogers Walton, to be published April 4, 2017, by Dutton, an imprint of Penguin Publishing Group, a division of Penguin Random House, LLC. Copyright © 2017 by Ten Ventures, Inc.

The entire ride home up Georgia 400, I was thinking, How do I start this conversation? How do I look somebody in the face that I supposedly love and tell her the hurtful things I’m going to have to tell her?

I decided not to beat around the bush. I would get it all out, and whatever happened after that, happened. It would probably get violent, and she’d probably never want to see my face again. Not that I’d be able to blame her. I just knew I had to take whatever came.

When I walked in the front door, she was in the kitchen. I picked up a box of Kleenex on the counter, walked over to the dining room table, and sat down.

“Come here,” I said. “We need to talk. You need to have a seat.”

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She sat down and started welling up right away. She knew what was coming; she just didn’t know the depth of it.

“Karin,” I said. “This is killing me and I’ve got to get it out, so let me get it all out. I’ve been having affairs with three girls: the girl from LA; a girl from Atlanta; and a girl from Detroit, who I met in spring training. I’ve been having these affairs since the beginning of the season.”

For some reason, I didn’t tell her about the girl in Philly. Maybe it was because I thought she might be lying to me about being pregnant. But I got it out that I’d had three affairs and then I lowered the boom.

“The girl from Detroit, Jennifer, is pregnant,” I said. “And she’s going to have the baby.”

There was a long silence, followed by uncontrollable sobbing from both of us. Eventually we got up. I needed to gather myself. I heard something behind me, and when I turned around, I saw she had picked up a vase. She threw it at me, and it hit me on the side of the head.

It didn’t break until it hit the floor and I wasn’t cut up or anything, but what was I going to say anyway? I deserved it. The only thing I could do was walk out of the room and give her time to cool off.

I went into my office and shut the door. I sat on my chaise lounge and sobbed. I could hear her through the door sobbing uncontrollably and screaming. This probably went on for about 30 minutes. Then there were about 10 minutes of silence.

She walked into my office and sat on the arm of the chaise lounge beside me. She leaned into me. We sat there in silence for a long time.

“I’m so sorry,” I said.

“I don’t know where this is going to take us,” she said. “I love you, and we’ll see what the future holds.”

Ultimately, Karin decided she wanted to stay married, but she couldn’t coexist with the child in the picture. I didn’t fault her for feeling that way. A child would be an everyday reminder.

She was being honest about her feelings. To ask her to bury those feelings would be even harsher. I knew coming into our conversation, I’d probably have a decision to make — her or the baby— and she basically made it for me.

I was scared to get divorced, and I’d already hurt her so badly. I didn’t want to hurt her anymore. I felt that I owed it to her to give it a try. So I decided to recommit to the relationship and not to see my child. I would do what I needed to do to take care of Jennifer and the baby, but I was going to stay with Karin.


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