The number one overall pick in the 1990 MLB draft by Atlanta, Jones made his MLB debut late in 1993. Between 1996 and 2003, he batted at least .300 with 26 home runs in seven of eight seasons. An eight time All-Star, he won the 1999 National League (NL) Most Valuable Player Award, and the 1999 and 2000 NL Silver Slugger Award for third basemen. He was the MLB batting champion in 2008 after hitting .364. He currently holds the Braves team record for career on-base percentage (.402), and on July 5, 2007, passed Dale Murphy for third place on the Braves all-time career home run list.
Jones ended his career in 2012 with a .303 career batting average, with 468 home runs, 1,512 walks, and 1,623 RBI in 2,499 games with 8,984 at bats. He has the most career RBI for a third baseman. Also one of the most accomplished switch hitters in the history of the game, he finished behind only Eddie Murray for career RBI by switch hitters. He is the only switch hitter in MLB history with both a career batting average of at least .300 and 400 or more home runs. He was the eighteenth hitter in MLB history to accumulate 5,000 at bats and finish with at least a .300 batting average, .400 on-base percentage, and .500 slugging percentage, and the only switch hitter to reach all these milestones.
When Jones was nearing retirement as a player, many baseball writers predicted that he would be inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame as soon as he became eligible. On June 28, 2013, the Braves retired Jones' number 10 and inducted him into the team's Hall of Fame. In December 2015, Jones re-joined the Braves as special assistant to baseball operations.
Chipper Jones was born in DeLand, Florida on April 24, 1972. His father, Larry Wayne Jones, Sr., was a teacher and coach at T. DeWitt Taylor High School in Pierson, the same high school Jones would later attend and play baseball. Jones received the nickname "Chipper" from his father and other family members, who saw the younger Larry as a "chip off the old block." He showed an early love for baseball predominantly because of his father's position as coach, and began to play Little League teams at age 7.
During his freshman year, Jones played starting pitcher and shortstop for Taylor High School. During the same year, he also played on a local American Legion Baseball team in right field. Following his freshman year, Jones was enrolled at the Bolles School in Jacksonville, Florida. In his three seasons at Bolles, the team went 65-19 and won a state double-A championship. Jones batted .483 in his senior season and also pitched well enough for a 7-3 record and .987 earned run average, striking out 100 batters and walking only 25. Jones's team reached the state championship again during his senior year, however they lost during the final innings of the game.
The Atlanta Braves selected Jones as the first pick overall in the 1990 Major League Baseball draft and signed him to a contract with a $400,000 signing bonus. Atlanta expressed a desire to select pitcher Todd Van Poppel as the first pick, however Van Poppel explicitly stated that he would not sign with the Braves. Atlanta then selected Jones, who played shortstop at the time.
In 1991, Jones played with the Macon Braves, Atlanta's class-A minor league affiliate. His average was .326 following 473 at bats, with 24 doubles, 11 triples, 15 home runs, 40 steals, 69 walks, and 79 strikeouts; however, he received criticism after making 56 errors at the shortstop position.
Jones moved up to the Durham Bulls, the Braves' class A-advanced minor league team, in 1992. Jones's average was .277 after 70 games; he was then moved to double-A Greenville Braves where he cut his error total from 56 in the previous season to only 32.
Following a successful season, Jones played with the triple-A Richmond Braves, where he played 139 games before being called to Atlanta for his major league debut.
During his time in the Braves' minor league system, Jones was involved in a bench clearing brawl with future Major League stars Manny Ramirez and Jim Thome. Thome and Jones would eventually go on to develop a good friendship over the years. He also changed his position from shortstop to third base, following the guidance of the Braves organization.
Chipper Jones debuted on September 11, 1993, as the youngest player in the league. In 1994, he was expected to compete for the starting left field job after veteran Ron Gant broke his leg during an offseason dirt bike accident. However, Jones suffered an ACL tear in his left knee in spring training. As a result, he spent the entire strike shortened 1994 season on the disabled list.
In 1995, Jones led all major league rookies in RBIs (86), games played (145), games started (123), plate appearances (602), at bats (524), and runs scored (87). That year, he finished second in the Baseball Writers' Rookie of the Year balloting behind Los Angeles Dodgers pitcher Hideo Nomo. In addition to achieving a level of personal success, Jones participated in the 1995 World Series, in which the Braves won in six games over the Cleveland Indians. He also participated in the 1996 World Series, in which the Braves lost to the New York Yankees in six games.
Jones recorded the last official hit at Atlanta–Fulton County Stadium before its demolition in 1997, as well as the first hit in Turner Field history. In 1998, Jones came in ninth in the voting for NL MVP, as he scored 123 runs and had 96 walks (both fourth best in the league).
In 1999, Jones won the National League MVP award after becoming the first player ever to hit over .300 (.319) while slugging 40 or more home runs (45; 3rd in the NL) and doubles (41), drawing 100 or more walks (126; 3rd in the league), notching 100 or more RBI (110) and runs scored (116), and stealing 20 or more bases (25). Ironically, Jones was not selected for the MLB All-Star game that year. He was also walked intentionally 18 times; 2nd in the league, and his .633 slugging percentage was 4th best in the NL. A major factor in his selection as MVP was his performance against the Braves' chief competitors, the New York Mets. The Braves led the National League East by only one game as they entered a three-game September series against the Mets, the team that was right on their heels. Atlanta swept the series at Turner Field, though, largely thanks to Jones, who hit four home runs and drove in seven of the thirteen runs that the Braves scored. For the season, he hit .319 with a .510 on-base percentage, a 1.000 slugging percentage, and seven home runs against the Mets. During the 1999 NLCS, Jones drew the ire of Mets fans by saying, "Now, all the Mets fans can go home and put their Yankees' stuff on." In the playoffs, Jones led the Braves to the World Series against the New York Yankees, in which the Braves were swept. He did, however, hit their only home run in the series, against Yankees' starter Orlando Hernández.
Jones signed a six-year, $90 million deal in 2000. Jones batted .330 in 2001, 5th best in the league, and led the league with a .349 road batting average. On his 29th birthday, he hit two home runs. On defense, however, his range factor of 2.14 placed him last among the regular major league third basemen who qualified for the fielding ranking.
In 2001, a season of flux for the Braves who had won consecutive division titles since their 1995 World Series victory without winning again, Jones was involved in a public "lingering feud" with former teammate John Rocker. Rocker referred to Jones on the radio by saying "Chip's white trash" and "as two-faced as they came." By late June, the two claimed the feud had been put to bed.
Before the start of the 2002 season, Jones announced his willingness to move from third base to left field, to make room for the incoming Vinny Castilla. Jones proved adequate in left field, but following two more early playoff exits in 2002 and 2003, a hamstring pull in the early 2004 season and then 3rd baseman Mark DeRosa's struggles, he moved back to his regular position of third base.
In 2002, he batted .327, again 5th best in the NL. Jones was 3rd in the league with a .435 on-base percentage. On August 16, 2004, he hit the 300th home run of his career in a 5–4 victory over the San Diego Padres. Following the 2005 season, Jones reworked his contract with the Braves—freeing up money for the Braves to pursue elite free agents, while virtually assuring he would end his career in Atlanta. The revamped deal gave the Braves $15 million over the course of the next three years, as well as $6 million to use in 2006. The new deal also converted two final team option years to guaranteed contracts.
Jones was selected to play in the inaugural 2006 World Baseball Classic (along with Braves teammates Jeff Francoeur and Brian McCann). He hit a home run in his first at bat of the Classic against Mexico off of Atlanta Braves teammate Óscar Villarreal, who was with the team from 2006 to 2007. Jones went 6–17 with a double and two home runs in the tournament.
The 2006 season was one of numerous milestones for Jones. On June 10, he became the Atlanta Braves' all-time RBI leader when he drove in his 1,144th run against the Houston Astros at Minute Maid Park, passing former outfielder Dale Murphy and placing Jones third on the franchise's all-time list (including Braves teams based in Boston and Milwaukee), behind Hank Aaron (2,202) and Eddie Mathews (1,388).
On July 15, 2006, Jones recorded his 1,902nd career hit, to become the Atlanta Braves' all-time hits leader, passing Hank Aaron. The next day he hit a home run to extend his extra-base hitting streak to 14 games, matching the Major League record set by Pittsburgh's Paul Waner in 1927. A month later, on August 14, Jones had his first career three home run game. Jones homered in his final three at bats in the Braves' 10–4 win over the Washington Nationals, finishing the night 4-for-5 with 5 RBI. ESPN named Chipper Jones the Burger King 'King of the Night' for this performance.
Despite successes at the plate, injuries dogged Jones throughout the season and for the first time in his career, the Braves failed to qualify for postseason play.
Jones performed well both offensively and defensively during the 2007 season. On June 16, he hit a single in the second inning against the Cleveland Indians for his 2,000th career hit. On July 5, Jones tied and passed Braves legend Dale Murphy for first on the all-time Atlanta Braves home run list when he hit his 371st and 372nd home runs against the Los Angeles Dodgers at Dodger Stadium. This game was also the first time he hit homers from both sides of the plate since 2000. The next day, he had his 400th career double in the ninth inning against San Diego Padres pitcher Kevin Cameron, who had previously only allowed one extra-base hit all year. On July 29, Jones matched a career-high with 5 RBIs as the Braves shut out the Arizona Diamondbacks 14–0. He accomplished the feat again on August 23 against the Cincinnati Reds. In the fifth inning of an August 9 game at Shea Stadium, Jones hit a towering three-run homer to right field off Mets starter John Maine. It would later be measured at 470 feet (140 m).
Jones finished the season 1st in the NL in times reached base on an error (14) and in OPS (1.029), 2nd in batting average (.337), and 3rd in OBP (.425) and SLG (.604). He was also sixth in MVP voting, his highest finish since winning the award in 1999.
While the Braves enjoyed some early successes, injuries to the pitching staff spoiled the ample contributions from Atlanta's potent offense. While the Braves posted a winning record, they finished third in the National League East, and sat out the postseason.
He opened the Chipper Jones's 10th Inning Baseball Academy in Suwanee, Georgia, in late 2007.
Jones began the 2008 season where he left off in 2007, hitting over .400 in April while slugging 7 home runs. He also had back-to-back games in which he hit two home runs. Despite these accomplishments, he ultimately lost the NL Player of the Month award in April to Chase Utley. On June 13, Jones was hitting .414 with 15 home runs, but his average dropped to .393 by June 22.
He hit his 400th career home run on June 5 off Ricky Nolasco of the Florida Marlins, and he was named NL Player of the Week for the week of June 2–8. He was picked to start in the 2008 Major League Baseball All-Star Game, receiving the most votes by fans, managers, and other players of any NL third basemen. Jones won his first batting title at age 36, the oldest switch-hitter to win a batting title. Jones hit .364 during 2008, one point off the all-time switch-hitter high for a season of .365, set by Mickey Mantle.
In 2008, Jones tied a MLB record for most consecutive 20+ home run seasons to start a career (14).
In December 2008, Jones accepted an invitation to play for the USA team in the 2009 World Baseball Classic. He played alongside teammate Brian McCann. Jones was scratched from an elimination game in the 2009 World Baseball Classic after straining his right oblique muscle, while playing for team USA. The announcement came an hour before the game was to be played against team Netherlands. As reported by CBC News on March 13, 2009, Jones criticized Toronto and the play schedule of the World Baseball Classic.
On March 31, 2009, Jones agreed to a three-year $42 million contract extension with the Braves; the deal includes an option that could become worth up to $61 million over four seasons. On May 28, against the Giants and Cy Young winner Tim Lincecum, Jones struck out four times in one game for the first time in his career.
In 2009, he was ranked #10 on the Sporting News' list of the 50 greatest current players in baseball. A panel of 100 baseball people, many of them members of the Baseball Hall of Fame and winners of major baseball awards, were polled to compile at the list.
In 2009, Jones led all major league third basemen in errors, with 22, and had the lowest fielding percentage of any starting major league third baseman (.930).
Jones got off to a poor start in 2010 and met with Atlanta Braves management in June to discuss possible retirement at the end of the season, but his performance improved as the season progressed. Jones's season came to an end after he was injured in a game against the Houston Astros on August 10, 2010; injury reports indicated that he had torn the ACL in his left knee, which would require surgery. In an August 13 press conference, he stated that he would not retire, and that "I don't want the fans' final image of me to be one of me hurt on the field".
During the off-season, Atlanta Braves general manager Frank Wren told David O’Brien of The Atlanta Journal Constitution that Jones would likely be ready for Opening Day stating "I think he's progressed very well. He had a setback earlier in the winter when he was away for a week – I think he was actually on a hunting trip – and he was not doing the [leg] lifts. But as soon as he got back on his weights, he was fine. Right now, talking to the trainers, he should not have any restrictions coming into spring training."
Jones made great progress with his rehab and took part in spring training. He was in the Braves' opening day lineup against the Nationals, getting the first hit and scoring the first run of the 2011 Major League Baseball season.
On April 8, 2011, Jones hit his 2,500th base hit in the Braves' home opener versus the Philadelphia Phillies. His former manager Bobby Cox was in attendance. On April 13, 2011, he recorded his 1500th RBI against the Florida Marlins, with a solo home run off Randy Choate. On April 26, 2011, Chipper recorded his 500th double against the San Diego Padres. He also tied Mickey Mantle for second most RBIs all time by a switch hitter; Jones passed Mantle for sole possession of second place all-time on April 27, 2011 (with 1,512 RBI) after a 3-run stand up triple, helping the Braves beat the San Diego Padres 7–0.
Jones suffered from a torn meniscus in his right knee for much of the first half of the 2011 season, and received Cortisone shots in an attempt to manage the pain. When this became ineffective, he elected to undergo arthroscopic surgery and was placed on the disabled list on July 9, 2011. He returned to the lineup on July 25.
On August 12, 2011, Jones hit a three-run homer against the Chicago Cubs for his 1000th extra base hit. On August 19, 2011, Jones confirmed that he would return for the 2012 season, the final year on his contract, thus ending ongoing speculation about his possible retirement. On August 31, 2011, Jones hit his 450th career home run off John Lannan of the Washington Nationals.
On March 22, 2012, the Braves announced that Jones would retire following the 2012 season, after 19 Major League seasons with the team. Following the announcement, a fan tribute song called "The Chipper Jones Song" was featured in a number of sports blogs.
Jones opened the 2012 season on the disabled list, following surgery on March 26, 2012 to repair a torn meniscus in his left knee. He was activated from the disabled list and was in the lineup on April 10, as the Braves faced the Houston Astros; he went 2-4 with a single and a two-run home run, helping the Braves to their first win of the season.
On April 24, Jones was in the lineup against the Los Angeles Dodgers on his 40th birthday. He hit a solo home run in Atlanta's 4-3 win, ending up with a career record of .429 (21-for-49) with five home runs on his birthday. The next day, in the final regular season at-bat at Dodger Stadium of his career, Jones knocked in the winning run in the top of the 9th inning. On May 2, Jones capped off a wild extra-inning contest with the Philadelphia Phillies by hitting a 2-run walk-off homer in the bottom of the 11th. He referred to the game-winning home run as one of the best individual moments of his career, as it finished a 15-13 Braves win that saw the team rally from two deficits of five runs or more.
During a May 18 game at Tampa Bay, Jones was hit by a ground ball and suffered a severe contusion to his left leg. On May 25, he was placed on the DL after it became clear that the injury would require more time to heal. Jones returned to the Braves' lineup on June 10.
Jones hit his 460th home run off Trevor Cahill of the Arizona Diamondbacks on June 27, 2012, putting Jones in 33rd position on the list of top 300 Major League Baseball home run hitters. Jones is also in 33rd position on the list of Major League Baseball career doubles leaders, passing Lou Gehrig's record for doubles during the same series with Arizona on June 29, 2012.
On July 3, 2012, Jones was named to the NL All-Star team as a replacement for the injured Matt Kemp. That same day, he had his third career five-hit game and the first since 2002. He made it known that he wished the National League would win the All-Star game in his pregame address to his NL teammates:
We got an opportunity to [continue the NL winning streak]. And I am not going out losing my last one...
During the All-Star game (the only time in his 19-year career that he played in Kansas City), Jones hit a single into right field at his first (and only) at bat during the game, and the National League won 8–0. At the All-Star Game break after July 8, Jones was hitting .318 with 6 home runs and 33 RBIs.
On August 16, 2012, Jones hit two home runs and collected his 2,700th hit. On September 12, 2012, Jones recorded his 1,500th walk in a game against the Milwaukee Brewers, becoming the first switch hitter in Major League Baseball history to obtain at least 2,500 hits, 1,500 RBIs, 1,500 runs and 1,500 walks. Jones also joined Stan Musial, Babe Ruth, Ted Williams, and Lou Gehrig as the only players in Major League history to record at least 2,500 hits, 1,500 walks, 1,500 runs, 500 doubles, 450 home runs, and 1,500 RBIs while hitting .300 with a .400 on-base percentage and .500 slugging percentage.
Jones ended his career hitting over .300 from each side of home plate. Among switch-hitters with at least 5,000 career at-bats, the only other player to do so is Frankie Frisch. He and Mickey Mantle are the only two switch-hitters in MLB history to have an on-base percentage of .400, slugging percentage of .500, and 400 homers in their careers. Jones also has the most RBIs of any player who was primarily a third baseman.
The final game of his career was the 2012 National League Wild Card Playoff (dubbed the "infield fly rule game" following a controversial call by umpire Sam Holbrook), in which the Braves lost 6–3. In his final at-bat, Jones hit a broken bat single for an infield base hit, with two outs in the bottom of the ninth.
In February 2013, the Atlanta Braves announced that they would induct Jones into the Braves Hall of Fame and retire his number, 10. Jones's Braves Hall of Fame induction ceremony took place on June 28 during a luncheon at the Atlanta Marriott Marquis and featured speeches from former Braves players, including Hank Aaron. Jones's number retirement ceremony also took place on June 28 prior to the Braves' game against the Arizona Diamondbacks. Jones, who approached the podium as his former walk-up song ("Crazy Train" by Ozzy Osbourne) played in the background, was joined onstage by former Braves owner Ted Turner, Braves franchise president John Schuerholz, former Braves player Dale Murphy, then-current Braves player Dan Uggla, and former Braves manager Bobby Cox, as well as his parents and children. During his speech, Jones also recognized his former Braves teammates Martín Prado, Randall Delgado, and Eric Hinske, who were all traded to or signed by the Diamondbacks during that offseason. His number 10 is the eleventh number retired by the Braves franchise. Later that same year Chipper Jones's number 10 jersey was also retired by the Durham Bulls on August 20.
During a 2014 winter storm, Jones rescued former teammate and current Atlanta Brave, Freddie Freeman. Freeman was stuck in a traffic jam for hours. Jones came to the rescue on his ATV, and pulled Freeman out of the jam. At the start of the new year in 2016, the Atlanta Braves announced a "Chipper Rescues Freddie" bobblehead night for the upcoming season to honor the rescue. This will be used as a promotional night for the franchise.
He returned to the Braves as an adviser for the 2016 season.
Jones met his first wife, Karin Fulford, while he was playing with the Braves class A affiliate in Macon, Georgia. The couple married in 1992 and later divorced after it was revealed that Jones had an 18-month extramarital affair with a Hooters waitress that produced a son, Matthew, born in 1998.
He married Sharon Logonov in March 2000 in Pierson, Florida. They have three sons: Larry Wayne III (Trey), Tristen, and Shea, named after Shea Stadium because of Jones's great success in the stadium. As of June 14, 2012, Jones and his wife Sharon had separated. Their divorce was finalized in November of the same year. Soon after, Jones began dating former Playboy model Taylor Higgins. Jones and Higgins were married on June 14, 2015. On June 21, 2016 Jones and Higgins announced via Twitter that they are expecting a baby in January 2017.
Jones enjoys deer hunting. Jones was a co-owner of Outdoor Channel's hunting show Buck Commander with friends and pro athletes Adam LaRoche, Ryan Langerhans, Tom Martin, and Willie Robertson. Currently, he is co-owner and co-host of the television show Major League Bowhunter airing on CarbonTV and the Sportsman Channel, alongside friends Matt Duff and Jeff Danker.
In 2008, Jones released a charity wine called "Chipper Chardonnay", with a portion of the proceeds supporting the Miracle League, an organization serving children with disabilities.