Watching Chipper Jones hustle down the line to leg out a base hit in the 2012 MLB All-Star Game—his eighth and final appearance in the Midsummer Classic—conjured up a piece of advice the Atlanta Braves third baseman shared during a spring training visit in 2011.
“You need to be passionate about everything you do in life,” Jones said.
Playing the game with passion is the calling card for this year’s crop of young phenoms, which includes Bryce Harper and Mike Trout. The real question, though, is how Jones, an 18-year MLB veteran who has played nearly 2,500 career games, keeps the fire alive?
“It’s the passion of wanting to come out here and win,” Jones says. “It’s not the individual part of the game, it’s the team part of the game.”
He continues: “All that keeps me coming back is being able to punctuate my time with the Atlanta Braves.”
This approach to playing the game, in essence, is the reason why Jones, just 40 home runs short of the 500 mark, announced his plans to retire at the end of the 2012 season.
Sure, the future Hall of Famer could spend a few more seasons chasing 500 home runs, but one mark of a great player is knowing when to call it quits.
Now Jones, whose big bat helped the Braves win the World Series in his rookie year in 1995, hopes to make one last postseason push before his final farewell to the game he’s played so passionately nearly all of his life.
“The one thing that I’ll miss the most is being able to swing your bat and lift 50,000 people out of their seats,” Jones says. “That’s pretty cool.”