Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

Now Retired, Jones Can Reflect upon Past Triumphs, Mistakes

Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

Now Retired, Jones Can Reflect upon Past Triumphs, Mistakes

Article excerpt

ATLANTA -- Before Chipper Jones stepped up, the traditional chant accompanying the tomahawk chop at Atlanta Braves games broke out.

The opening notes of his signature song, Ozzy Osbourne's "Crazy Train," blasted through the speakers.

But this time, Jones was stepping up not to the plate, but to a microphone at Emory University. Admittedly not much for speechmaking and on the unfamiliar terrain of a college campus, he was nonetheless a hit as guest speaker Thursday at Emory's Class Day, a prelude to commencement exercises Monday.

Newly retired after two decades with the Braves, Jones recently attended his first Masters golf tournament, played at exclusive Augusta National and was grand marshal of the NASCAR race at Talladega Superspeedway, where his message -- "Start your engines" - - could not have been more succinct.

Now Jones can check the box for addressing an audience "a lot smarter than I am," as he put it Thursday. Though he had committed to the University of Miami, Jones went to the minor leagues from high school.

Jones, 41, recalled for the graduating class how he targeted big league ballplayer as a career in his youth and maintained his focus to make it happen. The ride, he told the students, was not always smooth, although it ended with 468 home runs and a .303 career batting average.

"I came into quite a bit of fame and money at an early age," he said before alluding partly to a well-chronicled case of infidelity that led to a divorce. "Quite frankly, I didn't handle it all that well."

Jones added: "One of the ways to make people forgive you is stand up like a man, admit your mistakes and move forward. People are going to respect you a lot more when you own up to the mistakes you made."

He said the rock-star-like lifestyle in his first few seasons "was awesome." He followed with a serious postscript: "It came back to haunt me. …

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