09/30/12 8:09 PM ET
Emotional finish for Chipper at Turner Field
By Teddy Cahill / MLB.com
He said manager Fredi Gonzalez asked him three times if he wanted to be called back from the plate for a pinch-hitter or a pinch-runner and receive one last, deafening ovation from the sellout crowd at Turner Field.
Each time, however, Jones demurred. He wanted to finish what he started. And besides, he had his own plans for what he would do once the game was over.
"To be honest with you, I saw us winning this game early," Jones said, "And I wanted to go give my mom and dad a hug after the game. If I checked myself out of the game, I'd be in here watching fantasy football."
So Jones stayed in the game for all nine innings, including four plate appearances. He went 1-for-2 with two walks and a run. And when closer Craig Kimbrel got pinch-hitter Fred Lewis to ground out to Dan Uggla to end the game, Jones was on the field for handshakes.
He then thanked the fans for their support on the video board before climbing into the stands to give his parents their hugs. After attempting to keep his emotions in check all weekend, Jones finally relented.
"I've been kind of cowboy-ing up all week trying to hold back the tears," Jones said. "Obviously, when it comes full circle and you stand there in front of 50,000 people and you tell your mom and dad that you love them, it means a lot to me.
"To have gone 35 years, 40 years there in Pierson, Fla., and here we are standing in a big league stadium in Atlanta and I have my own weekend, that's bringing it full circle. I'm glad that they were able to make it up and share this with me."
The emotional scene brought a close to what was an emotional weekend for Jones and Braves fans across the country. Beginning with Friday's pregame ceremony, the Braves' final weekend series was a celebration of their longtime third baseman, who will retire at the end of the season.
All three games were sellouts and Jones received standing ovations every time he came to the plate or made a play in the field.
Catcher David Ross said the weekend was one of the coolest things he has been a part of in his 11-year career.
"How cool is it for a city to show this much love for a person and how much they have done for a city?" Ross said. "As a baseball player, it doesn't get any better than that, and I'm sure he would say the same."
Jones has struggled to express what the fans' show of support this weekend has meant to him. But he said he has settled on overwhelming.
"I don't know if I'm worthy of all of this," Jones said. "I have my faults and whatnot. But when you've got that much love in the building, you feel like you are 10-feet tall."
Jones has provided many hair-raising moments for Braves fans over the years. Fittingly, they returned the favor in his final regular-season home game. Everywhere he looked, Jones said, he saw a sign with his name on it. Many said how far they'd traveled to say goodbye to the player they spent the last 19 years watching.
One said, "I skipped chemo to see Chipper." Some just said "Thank you #10."
Near the end, in the ninth inning, chants of "Thank you Chipper" broke out in the left-field stands. Soon all 50,635 fans at Turner Field joined in.
Teddy Cahill is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.