Chipper, Magic add to Game 1's festive atmosphere
Braves legend throws out first pitch; Dodgers co-owner revels in playoffs
ATLANTA -- Chipper Jones vowed when he retired that he was committed to becoming a bad golfer and remaining a good dad, and that no matter who came calling, he was most definitely not going to be tempted make a Major League comeback.
After one full season out of the game, it's clear that Jones, who threw out the ceremonial first pitch before Game 1 of the National League Division Series on Thursday night at Turner Field, is now, and will remain, happily retired.
"I've come to grips with it," he said. "I think my time has come and gone. It's these guys' time. I left my mark here and that's all you can ask for."
Jones, presumed by most as a future first-ballot Hall of Famer, was the logical choice to kick off the pomp and circumstance surrounding the first game of a postseason series in Atlanta.
The Braves have been here before -- many, many times, as evidenced by the row of 18 championship banners, including the 1995 World Series notation -- that line the awning in left field. Jones was a part of 14 of those teams, and while his number's been retired and he's begun the new phase of his life, it still seemed a little odd to see him as a spectator at a Braves game in October.
"I'm ready to be doing what I'm doing," he said. "I think the game had beaten me up and kind of taken away from me what I needed to be successful. It was time for me to ride off into the sunset."
On the other side of the field, a Dodgers dignitary caused a stir as he attempted to get settled into his seats near the visiting dugout. Of course, when you're Magic Johnson, it's hard to blend into the crowd, regardless of where the game is being played.
Johnson spoke at length with reporters before turning back to the stands, where he signed autographs, posed for pictures and tried to shift the focus away from him and back to the Dodgers players and their fans and what he hopes is to come further into October.
"I mean, it blows me away that I'm here, that we're here," he said. "It's all about the players and all about the Dodger fans. That's it. And I want to wish them well."
The national anthem was performed by Greenville, S.C., native and platinum-selling singer-songwriter Edwin McCain, and a Braves fan favorite, Timothy Miller from the Atlanta Opera, was scheduled to perform "God Bless America" during the seventh-inning stretch.
With the familiar ring of the Tomahawk Chop resonating throughout the seating area, it was time for a long-standing tradition to continue -- October baseball at Turner Field.
It's been done before, sure. But for these fans, it never gets old.