Feldman: Baseball ready to say good bye to one of its greats

Feldman: Baseball ready to say good bye to one of its greats

Credit: Getty Images

ST. LOUIS, MO - MAY 11: Jason Heyward #22 of the Atlanta Braves is congratulated by Chipper Jones #10 of the Atlanta Braves after hitting a game-winning two-run home run in the 12th inning against the St. Louis Cardinals at Busch Stadium on May 11, 2012 in St. Louis, Missouri. (Photo by Dilip Vishwanat/Getty Images)

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by Brian Feldman / BaseballStL

KMOV.com

Posted on October 5, 2012 at 2:24 PM

Atlanta, Ga. (BaseballStL) -- What do they say?  All good things must come to an end? 

For now, "they" are certainly right as one of baseball's best is calling it a career after this season ends.  Braves 3B Chipper Jones could very well be putting on the uniform for the final time later on today when his club battles the Cardinals in the first ever Wild Card playoff.

At 40 years old, there isn't much that guy hasn't seen or done in his illustrious 18-year career (all with Atlanta). 

Consider these numbers:

-- He is the seventh player in MLB history with a minimum of 10,000 at-bats to hit .300 with a .400 on-base percentage and have a .500 slugging percentage. The others?  Ty Cobb, Stan Musial, Babe Ruth, Mel Ott, Tris Speaker and Frank Thomas.

-- His .304 career batting average is the second best ever behind Frankie Frisch's .316 mark.

-- He hit .303 for his career from the left side and .304 from the right.  That speaks to absolutely remarkable consistency that you rarely see from switch hitters nowadays. 

-- He has played in 2499 regular season games, taken 8984 at-bats, gotten 2726 hits, hit 468 home runs and driven in 1623.  How's that for a career? 

-- He's got the most RBIs (1623) by any player who primarily played third base.  Ever.

Yet it all could come to an end tonight (and will end for sure this month).  And what does he have to say about it?

Chipper says he told his father he knows for a fact he's ready to retire because he's "not even nervous" for today's game against the Cardinals.  He says normally he'd be nervous the day before during the workout.  Normally he'd have butterflies more than a day in advance of playing.

Now?  Nothing.  Not a hint of nervousness or anxiety in that 6'4", 210 pound body of his.  And that's how he knows it's time to move on.

I remember going to a Cards/Braves playoff game back in 1996 with my family and seeing a young up-and-comer named Chipper Jones playing for Atlanta.  No way did I have any idea he'd turn out to be the player he became.  Sure, he was the first overall pick back in 1990.  But an eight time All Star?  An MVP winner with out-of-this-world consistency from both sides of the plate?  You never can predict such a thing.

They say here in Atlanta he's quite possibly the second greatest Brave to ever put on the uniform behind Hank Aaron.  For an organization that's seen such tremendous players like Eddie Matthews, that's impressive.

Icons like this come around rarely.  And when they do, as we know all too well in St. Louis, they sometimes don't stick around one team for their entire career.  Chipper Jones stayed.  And he stayed for the duration.  Ever since his major league debut on September 11th, 1993 he's been a Brave and nothing else. 

Sure, he's tormented the Cardinals on more than one occasion with his ability.  But as a fan of baseball, it's impossible not to respect a guy who deliberately made it a point to retire with the team that drafted him.

That's called loyalty.  And in a time where there is absolutely none of that anymore (on either side...team or player) that's certainly a sight to see.

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