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Chipper Jones: An oral history 

22 people reflect on the life and times of a legendary Brave

Page 4 of 7


click to enlarge JOEFF DAVIS

Chipper's MVP Season (1999)

Joe Simpson: Before he became the MVP, he had already gained the respect of everybody in baseball with what he could do.

Don Baylor (Braves hitting coach, 1999): I explained to him that he was a natural right-handed hitter. Other managers on the other side, me included [as the Colorado Rockies manager from 1993-1998], wanted to turn him around to hit right handed because I believed he was pretty much just satisfied with hitting a single. He was more dangerous from the left side.

Bobby Valentine (New York Mets Manager, 1996-2002): During the game, you get to pick your poison whether you want to try to get him out with a lefty or a right-hander. There were sometimes when you thought he was cold from one side at the plate.

Don Baylor: I just told him that we had to continue it during the season ... He spent a lot of time hitting on the right side that year.

David O'Brien: Here's an unbelievable fact: he didn't make the All-Star team in '99 ... didn't make the All-Star team. That's how great his second half was. First half numbers were strong, he should've made the All-Star team, but second-half numbers were crazy.

Tom Glavine: It's always a special thing when you watch a player get locked in like that and get locked in for that length of time. You'll see it from time to time with guys who are [there] for a week or two. For him, it seemingly was the whole second half.

Don Baylor: We would go into Shea, and that's when the rivalry between the Mets and Braves was [peaking]. You've got 40,000 people at Shea standing up, hollering "Larry!" It never affected him.

John Schuerholz: He always played well in New York. He rises up, he reaches higher levels of competitive spirit in circumstances where the competition is higher and better or the fans of that team are more challenging to him. He feeds off of that and does better usually.

Tom Glavine: Anytime he needed to punctuate what he was doing, it seemed like the Mets were around, and he'd do something spectacular against them.

David O'Brien: If you look at the numbers today against the Mets, it was phenomenal what he did — Bobby Valentine said he put a dagger in [his] heart.

Bobby Valentine: I try to not remember the bad stuff, and [my memory of] Chipper is filled with bad stuff from when we competed against him.

David O'Brien: He single-handedly was the difference between the Braves winning the division that year ... He eliminated the Mets during the second half.

Bobby Valentine: As history has shown, he had a special way of rising to the occasion in most big games, but in particular when he was playing the Mets he had the magic. If he hit it, it fell in the hole. If it was in the air, it usually fell into a vacant seat in the bleachers. He hit all pitches to all fields from both sides of the plate. I remember him making great defensive plays against us, saving the game with his glove, or scoring from first on a double. There was nothing that Chipper Jones left on the field — he did it all.


2000's

Frank Wren (Braves General Manager, 2007-Present): After the '99 MVP year, I think that's really, that was the moment where he took [charge].

Terry Pendleton: I just think he continued to be the player that, if you saw him early on and what you expected him to be, I think he's a guy that you knew he was going to do things in this game ... When I came back as a coach, nothing had changed. He had grown up from that little kid and become a young man, but he continued to play the game.

David O'Brien: He's taken that mantle on as Maddux, Glavine, Smoltz, as those guys went to other teams ... It left him as the guy who had been here as the link to the past, especially after Bobby left.

John Smoltz: I think he watched a lot of people before him — seen Terry Pendleton, Sid Bream ... It became a natural progression as he stuck around more than any other position player.

Joe Simpson: It's a quiet influence. He's not a rah-rah guy, walking around with pom-poms firing everybody up. They migrate to him and that's the sign of a real leader — people look to him when times are tough to show them the way. He's never a guy that's done a lot of helmet throwing, bat throwing, kicking the dirt, screaming at umpires, any of that stuff.

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