The fact that Chipper Jones played less than a season with the Durham Bulls is a testament to his greatness as a baseball player.
Jones played just 70 games for the Bulls when they were the Single-A affiliate of the Atlanta Braves during the 1992 season. He played his home games at historic Durham Athletic Park and didn’t set foot in Durham Bulls Athletic Park until 2013 when the Bulls retired his No. 10.
Now Jones is on the ballot for the Baseball Hall of Fame.
“Chipper, without a doubt, should be a first ballot HOF,” said Durham Bulls general manager Mike Birling. “The Durham Bulls have been blessed over the years to have had so many incredible players come thru, but Chipper stands out above them all in recent memory. He was a player who changed the game and it is an honor to know he wore our jersey.”
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More than 400 veteran members of the Baseball Writers’ Association of America received their ballots this week containing 19 candidates. They have until Dec. 31 to decide if Jones makes the cut. A lot of people think Jones is a shoo-in on his first ballot and may challenge Ken Griffey Jr. for the highest percentage of votes received. Griffey received a record 99.3 percent in 2016. It takes 75 percent to be elected.
Jones, who played 19 seasons with the Atlanta Braves, was an eight-time All-Star. He also helped the Braves win 11 straight National League division titles between 1995 and 2005. In 1999, Jones was the National League’s most valuable player. In 2008, he won a batting title.
Jones’ stats stand out among the best. He is the only switch-hitter to hit 400 home runs with a .300 batting average. The other players to have those numbers were Jimmie Foxx, Lou Gehrig, Mel Ott, Stan Musial, Manny Ramirez, Babe Ruth, Hank Aaron, Frank Thomas, Ted Williams and Willie Mays. Jones finished with 2,726 hits, including 468 home runs, over 19 seasons, all with the Braves.
Drafted No. 1 overall in the 1990 major league draft, Jones signed with Atlanta for $275,000. He went on to earn $161 million during his career.
He isn’t the only former Bulls player on the ballot, either.
Outfielder Andruw Jones, no relation, also is up for hall of fame consideration.