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John Smoltz (Braves Pitcher, 1988-2008; MLB Network Analyst): [Chipper was] eager to do whatever he could do, switching from shortstop to third. It always seemed like it was meant to be from the first time he got called up.
Ron Gant: He was quiet, he learned a lot, he asked questions. When you ask questions to learn about the game, you know that person's on the right track. Chipper was that guy.
Tom Glavine: You knew obviously his pedigree as a No. 1 pick and knew he was doing well in the minor leagues. There was a curiosity factor.
Ron Gant: He used to idolize Dale Murphy, myself, Dave Justice and those guys ... just seeing how mesmerized he was when he first met Dale Murphy — that was the funniest thing to me. It was like a deer in the headlights.
John Smoltz: I think [an early moment] that's the funniest for me is when Greg Maddux was pitching — this is Chipper's first year — a pop up came over towards the first base line and Greg was standing there directing traffic on who to get it. [He comes] flying out of nowhere, Chipper, and runs right into the back of Maddux's calf and buckles him. Maddux had some choice words for the young third basemen that was a little too eager to try and help this team.
Ron Gant: The first time I [saw] him swing a bat in the cage, he finished with his first round and came out of the cage. I said, "man, let me see this bat, you're using." He gave the bat and I said, "man, don't ever use that bat again." I gave him one of my bats to use — it was this big old tree bat. I mean a huge bat ... I always say the bat I gave him had all the leaves and limbs and stuff on it.
He got in the cage and started hitting with that bat. After that, he never put that bat down. He used the same sized bat pretty much his whole career after I told him not to use a small bat again.
David O'Brien (Atlanta Journal-Constitution Braves beat writer, 2002-Present): He had that beautiful swing — it's not the kind of swing you can teach a kid because it's a little unorthodox — but it's so smooth. It's a beautiful swing, to watch it, especially from both sides. Most switch hitters struggle from one side or the other and he really didn't.
Tom Glavine: You always look at guys like that and say, "hey, he's a good player, he's got a chance to be around for a long time." You know the only variable in the equation is obviously injuries. You never know what's going to happen to a guy, but you knew he had the talent, you know he had the makeup to have a long career. Did any of us foresee it being this good? Probably not. I don't know that you ever do.
Terry Pendleton (Braves Third Baseman, 1991-1994; Coach 2002-Present): [He was] very talented. He was a baseball kid. I mean, he knew the game of baseball. He was a student of the game. He was just a talented kid and you could see it in him. He could do some great things out here, if he stayed healthy.
Early Career (1994-1998)
John Smoltz: I remember spring training [in 1994], coming to camp, and seeing this pretty thin switch hitter with a lot of potential to try and make the club [full-time]. Of course, he had that bad knee injury that started everything off but he had this ability to just swing the bat that was pretty raw and pretty incredible.
Tom Glavine: I think he showed a lot of what his makeup was to not only come back, but to come back and have the kind of year that he had. He should've been the rookie of the year — he had a heck of a year.
John Schuerholz: When you come as a young guy to the big leagues and you separate yourself like that through your consistent productivity, you're demonstrating at a very young age that when the times get tough and the situation gets competitive, you're the guy that the team wants to have up there, you're the guy that the team relies on to make a play in his very first year in the big leagues.
Ron Gant: Consistency was Chipper's best asset — that goes back to how smart he was, how smart he is.
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