Cars started backing up at the entrances to the Turner Field parking lots at 2:30 p.m. Some people were actually tail-gating, making sure they were one of the first 20,000 fans to get a Chipper Jones bobblehead.
The Atlanta Braves -- surprise! -- are marketing the heck out of Chipper's retirement. Along with Thursday's bobblehead promotion, every Friday night, in addition to the fireworks, a Chipper Jones commemorative print is being given away. There's the Official Chipper Jones Retirement T-shirt with the Official Chipper Jones Retirement Logo. And if you want a bat covered with various Chipper stats, you can order that for $99.99.
Jones is aware of these promotions and does take them into account when he goes over his playing schedule with manager Fredi Gonzalez.
"Obviously," he says, "I want to play every home game. Because, through texting and through Twitter, people tell me all the time they're coming to games and, 'We hope you're playing, it's going to be the last time we see you play.' I take that to heart. But there are times when I just can't do it."
For those still speculating, no, he will not be reconsidering his retirement, no matter how well he hits. And he is hitting well: .343 (48-for-140) since June 19 coming into Thursday's game against the Padres, when his two home runs catapulted the Braves to a 6-0 win.
But to see him every day is to understand how much it takes mentally and physically for him to be able to take the field most days. He's playing on smarts this season, which is more than most guys ever have. And, of course, his 20-15 eyesight.
"I'm extremely happy that I've had a productive last year at the age of 40, up until this point," he says. "Do I think I can come back next year and play? Yes. I don't want to!
"That's what people don't get. I've made promises to the most important people in my life," he says, referring to his four sons. "I'm not going back on that promise."