Chipper Jones is simple, straight-forward and powerful, like a cup of black coffee. For 19 consecutive years with the same organization — the Atlanta Braves — he has come to work and done his business efficiently.
His extended baseball family has been gracious. They gave Chipper a jersey autographed by Stan Musial in St. Louis. The Chicago Cubs gave him a Braves flag that flew above Wrigley Field. The Denver Rockies gave him a camera that Chipper can mount on his hunting bow.
Chipper's Farewell Tour hit a snag in St. Petersburg this weekend, when he got drilled by a one-hop grounder on Friday in the opening set of a three-game series against the Tampa Bay Rays. Chipper's left ankle and surrounding area is swollen and all sorts of black and blue now, and it might be a few days before he can play again.
He did walk out of the dugout after the first inning of Sunday's game, to acknowledge the standing ovation from fans a video montage played on the big screen, honoring "Florida's favorite son."
The most famous person in the history of Pierson, Florida doesn't quite understand what the fuss is all about. "I'm really bashful and shy when it comes to that type of stuff," Jones said. "I just view it as me going out and doing my job."
Larry Wayne "Chipper" Jones, Jr. is moving on without regret since announcing his decision to retire after this season during spring training. He has no interest in looking back, only moving forward and evolving from the best baseball player he can be to the best family man he can be.
He has four boys, ages 14,11, 7, 6, who haven't seen much of dad during their formative years. They're undoubtedly proud of his father's legacy, which ends with a sure-fire ticket to the Hall of Fame. But right now there are other priorities in mind.
"You know what? — I've never been on a spring break with my family," he said. "I've never been on a summer vacation with my family. And I'm about ready to do it.
"This game has taken its toll on me physically as you can see. This is it. It's the right time. I'm at peace with it. Everybody else in the family is at peace with it."
His life with the Braves has been a marriage of sorts, too, and a great one. Chipper is only one of four No. 1 picks to win a World Series with his original club since the inception of the draft in 1965. This kind of loyalty cuts both ways, and is almost unheard of in the me-me-me generation of sports. Jones' select company includes Mariano Rivera and Derek Jeter of the New York Yankees — 18 years in pinstripes.
If Jones were an NBA player, he'd probably get bounced from the league for being too loyal to his team. He's never pulled a LeBron and taken his "talents to South Beach," or played the insufferable stay-or-go mind games currently going on between Dwight Howard and the Magic.
"It's been a good marriage between myself and the Braves," Chipper said.
It will end on his terms, and assuming that nasty ankle heals up soon, a man who remains standing strong until the very end. Chipper is hitting .307 with five home runs in 28 games this season.
"It's going to be a productive year," Braves manager Fredi González said. "It's not like we roll him out and give him one at bat and everybody cheers and we put him back in the training room. He's been a presence in the lineup. What a great way to go out."
Catch him if you can during his final at-bat in your town. Chipper Jones is unique and unbelievable, even if he remains unfazed by all the attention.
Read George Diaz's blog at OrlandoSentinel.com/enfuego or e-mail him at email@example.com