“Golly,” the retired Braves superstar thought at the time, “those guys must be miserable.”
In the first year of retirement, Jones spent Tuesday night in Augusta as the keynote speaker for the Augusta Sports Council’s Greater Augusta Medals for Excellence in Sports (G.A.M.E.S.) banquet at the Augusta Marriott at the Convention Center.
An eight-time All-Star who won the 1999 MVP award, Jones played 19 seasons with Braves, posting a .303 career average with 468 homers, 1,623 RBI, 1,512 walks and 1,409 strikeouts.
One of the game’s greatest all-time switch hitters, the third baseman is expected to be a shoo-in, first ballot Hall of Famer.
“I don’t really worry about that,” he said. “I walk away from the game with my head held high. I had a great career. I had a great time doing it. I have no regrets. I’ll let the chips fall where they may.”
Jones, 41, said he missed baseball briefly when he threw out the first pitch on Opening Day in April. But after undergoing seven knee surgeries, he said his knees couldn’t take another season. Besides, the father of four boys, whose ages range from 7 to 15, said he stays busy with his sons.
“I just didn’t have the desire in me to do it anymore,” he said. “It wears on you. It takes a toll.”
Since baseball season started, Jones has kept busy. He attended the Final Four in Atlanta and then came to Augusta for the Masters Tournament. He also played in Falcons quarterback Matt Ryan’s golf tournament and served as grand marshal Sunday at the NASCAR race at Talladega.
“I’ve gotten to kick a bunch of things off my bucket list,” he said, adding he has no plans on becoming a coach or manager in the near future. “I’ve lived out of a suitcase for 23 years. I’m ready to settle down and do some things.”
Now that he’s in retirement, Jones said he’s enjoyed watching his old team play.
“Up to now, they’re pretty streaky,” he said. “They’re going to be that way. When they’re good, they’re going to be really good and hit a lot of home runs. When they’re bad, they’re going to be really bad and strike out a lot. Hopefully, the pitching can solidify things.
“The one good thing about having a stacked lineup is on most nights somebody’s going to get you. They’ve done that more than the opposing pitcher has got them.”