Ballplayer by Chipper Jones

Reviewed by Allen Hott

BallplayerPerhaps not only one of the haughtiest players to have ever played the game but also without a doubt one of the greatest to have ever played major league baseball. Chipper, or (L- a- r- r- y !) Jones as the New York Met’s fans like to call him, tells it like it is as he describes his long career in baseball. The idea that he spent his entire career playing with the Atlanta Braves and while he was there the Braves had some of the greatest years of any baseball franchise is pretty unusual in any sport. Chipper wasn’t the only reason they were so good but he was a very important contributor to that success.

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The book traces his beginnings growing up in a small town in north Florida where he was religiously schooled in the correct way to play baseball by his dad. His dad played college ball at Stetson University and was offered a contract by the Chicago Cubs but since it wasn’t for much money and since Chipper was “on the way” his dad opted to stay on at Stetson as their baseball coach. But more importantly he worked at developing his son into becoming a tremendous ball player.

From very early on Chipper was taught to switch hit (bat both right and left handed) because his dad idolized Mickey Mantle (a switch hitter) and felt that Chipper was not only capable of doing it but doing it well. In his early years they practiced hitting, fielding, and catching day in and day out on their small farm while Chipper’s mom worked at being an equestrian and did so very well professionally. His parents are major reasons for his abilities and successes.

Chipper’s first real chance came when his parents sent him away to Bolles High School in Jacksonville because of the better opportunity to play baseball against better players. Although he didn’t want to leave home he actually excelled at Bolles and was soon being watched by major league scouts because of his overall talents.

Signed out of high school by the Atlanta Braves Chipper went on into the minors to learn even more about the game but it didn’t take long for his talent to be recognized and he was on his way to Atlanta and the big Leagues.

The book follows Chipper through his nineteen year career with Atlanta and tells of all the accomplishments that the Braves made during that time. He describes in detail often how he would figure out what pitch a pitcher was going to throw and how and where he planned to hit it. He also gives the reader a chance to feel what it is like to play third base in the majors and to live the life of a major league ball player.

He writes of many of his conversations with other big name ball players, coaches, and managers that he was with. Some of these have become lifelong friends and others not so much!

All in all it is a great read for anyone interested in baseball and especially those who are followers of the Atlanta Braves. Lots of great insight into the great moments of Chipper’s accomplishments and the Braves’ run during his career which was great for him and Atlanta!