Chipper leaves KC with special memories

Chipper leaves KC with special memories

KANSAS CITY -- As Chipper Jones moves toward the final months of his storied career, he stands as one of the greatest third basemen in baseball history. Thus, maybe it was fitting that he played his first All-Star Game in Mike Schmidt's house and his last in a city where George Brett remains a beloved figure.

Before experiencing his final Midsummer Classic at Kauffman Stadium on Tuesday night, Jones shared some laughs with Brett and delivered a pregame speech to his National League teammates. Then to cap off a memorable experience, he singled in the sixth inning of the Senior Circuit's 8-0 win over the American League.

"It's a really cool moment," Jones said. "I've said all along through the first half there have been games and moments that couldn't have been scripted any better. Today is one of those games that I will remember fondly when I look back on my last season."


Jones' soft sixth-inning single stood as just one of the highlights Braves players produced while helping the NL secure home-field advantage in the World Series with a third consecutive All-Star Game victory. Dan Uggla aided a five-run first-inning with his RBI infield single against the oft-dominant Justin Verlander.

"It was fun out there," said Braves outfielder Michael Bourn, who struck out in his only plate appearance. "Plus Chipper got to go out with a hit in his last at-bat in an All-Star Game."

Jones received a rousing ovation during pregame introductions and again when he came off the bench and strolled toward the plate with "Crazy Train" blaring through the stadium's sound system.

Before the crowd could get settled, Jones directed Chris Sale's first-pitch fastball toward the infield's right side. Shifted toward second base, Rangers second baseman Ian Kinsler did not attempt to dive as the ball made its way toward right field.

"I was thinking, 'Beat it out,' right away," Jones said. "At 40 years old, legging out an infield hit isn't exactly the way I scripted it."

When asked if he was showing reverence by allowing Jones to record a single, Kinsler said he would never do such a thing and was simply not warmed up enough to make a more aggressive attempt to field the ball.

For Jones, the single in his final at-bat bookends his All-Star memories. He also singled off Charles Nagy in the first at-bat of his first All-Star Game in Philadelphia in 1996.

"It ain't how hard you hit it, it's where you hit it," Jones said. "After getting a standing ovation, I have to admit I was a little misty. It's kind of hard to see 97 [mph] coming out of Chris Sale's hand."

Since arriving to enjoy his final All-Star week on Monday, Jones has been treated royally by the players and Kansas City fans, who had never had a chance to see him play in their city. The veteran thoroughly enjoyed watching his sons delight while Monday night's State Farm Home Run Derby and the parade held during Tuesday's All-Star Red Carpet Show presented by Chevrolet.

"It's been awesome," Uggla said. "He's been kind of like the Godfather around here. Everybody is just doing an amazing job. He's enjoying it too. He was a truck or two behind me in the parade. He was standing up waving. It was like they had him on a pedestal. He was standing up and having a blast."

Sixteen years after playing in his first All-Star Game, Jones still glows when thinking about the time he spent around Ozzie Smith, Barry Larkin and Cal Ripken. Two decades from now, Nationals 19-year-old outfielder Bryce Harper might find himself talking about his first Midsummer Classic being sweetened by Jones' presence.

"It's so great to see him get a single in his last All-Star Game," Harper said. "It was really fun to hang out with him and everybody else in this clubhouse."

As Jones addressed Harper and the rest of the NL team before the game, he reminded them that they were selected because they stand as the "elite of the elite." He also quoted Lou Brown, the fictional manager from the movie, "Major League," and declared he did not plan to lose his final All-Star Game.

When the NL broke out for five first-inning runs against Verlander, it appeared Jones' speech might have had a Knute Rockne-type effect.

"It's almost more meaningful to hear a speech from a player like that, who we all respect, than from anyone else," Brewers outfielder Ryan Braun said. "It was pretty cool."

Mark Bowman is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.