John Smoltz, Tom Glavine and Greg Maddux were outstanding players for the Atlanta Braves, but the face of the franchise and the biggest fan favorite for almost two decades was Chipper Jones. There were more of his No. 10 jerseys sold than any other player on the team.
Macon lays a little claim to Chipper Jones since he played his first full minor league season at Luther Williams Field after appearing in 44 games in the Gulf Coast Rookie League in 1990. In 136 games in Macon in 1991, he batted .326 with 15 home runs and 98 RBI and was named the South Atlantic League MVP. Playing shortstop in Macon, he committed 56 errors, but after making it to Atlanta, he never committed more than 25 and that came in his first major league season. He is a rarity in professional sports in that he spent his entire 23-year pro baseball career with the same team. In 19 big league seasons with the big-league Braves he was an eight-time All Star, the 1999 NL MVP and was a member of the 1995 World Championship team. He had a career .303 batting average with 468 home runs and 1,623 RBI.
As the No. 1 overall pick in the 1990 major league draft, there was no question that he was going to play professional baseball, but he did have the option to play college football.
An all-state 6-foot-3, 190-pound wide receiver on legendary head coach Corky Roger's first team at the Bolles School in Jacksonville, Florida, in 1989, Jones was recruited by virtually every major college football program in the South and had offers from Miami, Florida State, Florida and Georgia among many others. Rogers, who has won more than 450 games and 10 state titles with the Bulldogs, called Jones the best football player on his team that season and said he was one of the best he had ever had in all his time as a coach.
That year, Bolles finished with a 10-2 record, losing its first game and then suffering only its second loss in the second round of the playoffs. Jones had 10 catches for more than 200 yards in his first game with Rogers as the head coach. He was an all-state wide receiver and an all-state as punter. Rogers said Jones had legitimate 4.5 speed in high school and was explosive, and he thought that Jones lost some of that when he suffered a knee injury during spring training of the 1994 baseball season, which sidelined him for the entire season. Jones also played basketball at Bolles and was a standout in that sport, as well.
Jones, who grew up in Pierson, Florida, near DeLand where he was a phenom as a youth, attended Bolles, a private boarding school, for three years. His parents sent him there because they thought he was receiving preferential treatment at his old high school based of his past accomplishments, and they felt he needed to be challenged both athletically and academically.
There is little doubt that Jones will be a first ballot Hall of Famer when he becomes eligible in two years, but prior to that honor, he will go into the Georgia Sports Hall of Fame in ceremonies this weekend at the Macon City Auditorium. Jones will be joined by seven others: coaches Luther Welsh and Glenn Wilkes, football players Jimmy Robinson and Hines Ward, basketball players Patricia Roberts and Mike Glenn and media contributor Phil Schaefer.
Tickets for the ceremony can be purchased by calling the Georgia Sports Hall of Fame at 752-1585.
Contact Bobby Pope at email@example.com