Chipper Jones will be throwing out the first pitch on Opening Day. That is great news and it is awful news. It makes me feel old. I grew up in Upstate, NY as a die hard Red Sox fan. I came south for college in 1993. A very young Chipper Jones made his debut on September 11th of that year. I was living and going to school in Columbia, SC and I was officially in Braves Country. I loved it!
My allegiance to the Red Sox never waned but I quickly became attached to the Braves and it mainly had to do with Chipper. He was a big time prospect and someone you could latch onto as the face of a franchise.
Chipper sat out the 1994 season because of injury but came back to help lead the Braves to the World Championship in his rookie year. Not a bad way to start a career.
Chipper was the first baseball player I really liked that was around the same age as myself. My other favorite players were always grown men when I was just a boy. It wasn't a big deal at the time but the last few years it has been strange. Chipper started to age the last few years. More injuries, more games missed and I started to feel old with him. I seemed to become an even bigger fan of his the last few years.
We both were dealing with age and you knew his career was coming to an end. He made it official before last season and a year ago I could not wait to enjoy him for one more season. It was an incredible season. Chipper had aged but he could still play and he could definitely still hit. It was incredible to watch him last season but bittersweet. He was facing his baseball mortality and it felt like I was facing mine. When I watch baseball I still feel like a kid. I love that about the game but watching Chipper age and retire would remind me that I am not a kid.
Opening Day is a few days away and there will be no more Chipper Jones. I am still excited for the season like I always am but that realization is like a kick in the gut. Chipper will throw out the first pitch on Monday and I will try my best to still feel like a kid.
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