Braves legend Chipper Jones is joining the immortal this weekend with his induction into the Baseball Hall of Fame.
Manager Brian Snitker, now in his 42nd season with the organization, watched Jones grow from a No. 1 overall pick into a first-ballot Hall of Famer with the Braves.
“He’s a ballplayer,” Snitker said. “That’s the greatest compliment I think I can give somebody. You look at his career, the great career that he had, year after year after year, the numbers he put up. There’s a guy who came to play every day prepared. When you’re with him, you take it for granted.
“You look back and see what he did, it’s phenomenal. Just the whole thing. How he did it day in and day out, year in and year out. All the postseason games, the short offseasons. It’s amazing how tough and strong that guy was.”
Snitker was the team’s third-base coach from 2007-13, which included the 2008 season in which Jones won his first batting title (.364) at 36 years old.
Jones’ impact extended past the field: He became synonymous with sports in the South and was one of the more influential players of his era. He was the face of the Braves organization at a time when they were oozing with talent.
Some believed the switch-hitter would find his way to coaching after retirement. Jones is a true student of the game, and while he’s frequently around the Braves and their minor-league affiliates offering advice, he hasn’t been interested in joining the coaching ranks full-time.
“He spent so long in uniform,” Snitker said. “I don’t think, for those guys who spent that length of time away from their families and things, stuff they want to do. Maybe travel or do things on their terms. He can (still) come out here and be around it.
“Those guys know. They know what this entails if you put that uniform on day in and day out. It’s rough. Those guys who’ve been through it as long as they have, I’m sure they miss it for a while, but after that, it’s probably nice to have your family.”
Still, Snitker wouldn’t complain if Jones was around more often.
“I wish he was here more,” he said. “I wish he had more time to spend here. He’s a wealth of knowledge: how to do it, how to do it right. He sees things that most people don’t. For me, for the players, for everybody, I wish he was here more than what he has time to be here with.”
The Hall of Fame induction ceremony will be held Sunday beginning at 1:30 p.m. in Cooperstown, New York. Jones will be the first speaker.
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