Thanks for the memories, Chip

By JOE KONZE JR.
On October 11, 2012

 

Last Friday night, my childhood came to a close. I was saddened. In that moment, I thought of that line my parents used to say, "You can't relive the past."

But I always disagreed with them because I had one person who helped me relive the moments of my childhood.

That person was Chipper Jones.

When the last out was recorded in the NL wildcard play-in game, I realized after this year there would not be a No.10 at the "hot corner" for the Braves.

My parents' line came back to haunt me, and there was nothing I could do.

It was tough for me to accept.

See, baseball has always been in my blood. My grandfather played, my uncles played, my cousins played and my dad was even an all-city second baseman at East High School in Rochester, N.Y. in the late '70s.

I was born into the "family business," and there was no way out. Eat, sleep and baseball was all I knew. While 7-year-old kids were arguing over what color Power Ranger they were going to be, I was arguing with my cousin on who imitated professional batting stances the best.

 But what inspired me the most about playing the game I loved to talk about was the switch-hitting first-round draft pick in the 1990 MLB draft...

Chipper Jones.

I spent countless hours breaking down and studying his stance, imitating his throwing motions. I had to play just like him. What was a nightmare to most fans in the NL East for nearly two decades was a childhood obsession.

He especially loved to dominate the Mets.

His stats were a testament to that. He accumulated a .313 average, 63 runs, 101 hits, 19 homeruns and 55 RBI at Shea Stadium - a pretty remarkable feat considering he played there nine times per season for 14 years. He played 126 games at Shea Stadium in his career.

He completely dominated them to the point where he actually named his dog "Shea" after the Mets old digs.

I disliked the Mets ever since 1997 when I became a Chipper fan. Maybe it because there were already pre-existing feelings that there should only be one team in New York: the Yankees.

Chipper gave me a reason to feel better, as I would watch him completely destroy the Mets' pitching staff. These numbers are credible for the Hall of Fame in which he will be eligible for in 2017.

My fondest memory of Chipper is something I'll never forget. The summer of 1999 was unforgettable - for Chipper and myself. I was competing against my whole little league for best batting average. Chipper Jones was battling the NL East for a batting title.

After every game, I would look at the scorebook to find out I had recorded multiple hits. Then I always ran home to check Jones' stats to see where he was in the batting champion standings.

Both of us shared success - I claimed the batting title for my little league team, and Jones claimed his first of two batting titles.

It was a summer I will never forget as long as I live.

As Chipper Jones hung his spikes up for the last time following an impressive career, a funny feeling came over me. I realized the spot beside my Chipper Jones poster was the perfect spot to hang up my childhood.

 

Email: joseph.konze@ubspectrum.com


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