Friday night was a special night for the Atlanta Braves organization, their fans, and especially for one of their all-time greatest players, Larry Wayne "Chipper" Jones.
Prior to the their 3-0 victory over the Arizona Diamondbacks at Turner Field, the team held a ceremony to officially retire Jones' No. 10 along side other Braves legends such as Hank Aaron, Dale Murphy, Greg Maddux, and Jones' former longtime manager, Bobby Cox.
It's a very deserving honor for a player who accumulated some remarkable numbers (468 homers, 2,726 hits, 549 doubles and 1,619 runs scored) and numerous accolades (eight all-star appearances, one MVP and one World Series ring) over 19 major league seasons. But honestly, you can put all of that aside when it comes time to address the audience and the fanbase that accepted you into their lives for nearly two decades.
That was really what Friday night was all about for Jones, and I thought he did a terrific job of covering that relationship, his relationship with his teammates, and his career in general in just under five minutes.
You can view the speech in its entirely above. Among the highlights for me:
• Thanking Todd Van Poppel, who likely would have been the Braves No. 1 overall pick in the 1989 MLB draft had he not made it clear he wouldn't sign with them. Well played, Chipper.
• Acknowledging former teammate Martin Prado, who now plays for Arizona. The standing ovation that followed for Prado was well-deserved.
• Bringing up Kirk Gibson's one-legged home run in the 1988 World Series. A special moment for Jones growing up as a Dodgers fan.
Of course this was just a warm up speech for Chipper Jones. Five years down the road, he'll be making the big one in Cooperstown. I'm sure the Braves fans will turn out in droves that day as well, and I'm willing to bet the speech will be just as entertaining.
Another pretty cool thing to note on Friday night? Perhaps the most fitting tribute for Jones wasn't even scripted. Braves starting pitcher Julio Teheran struck out 10 ten D-Backs in the victory.