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Head of the Class: Chipper elected to Hall

Braves legend tallies 10th-highest percentage in balloting history
MLB.com @mlbbowman

ATLANTA -- Though he was certain he was going to receive the hallowed call, Chipper Jones tossed and turned as he experienced a restless night and attempted to calm the excitement he felt when he received confirmation he now has the distinction of being a first-ballot Hall of Famer.

"I knew today was going to be a day that could possibly change my life forever," Jones said. "You have a handful of instances where something happens that will change your life, with marriages and kids. But professionally, being drafted No. 1 overall in 1990 changed my life forever. Today was another instance where my life will never be the same."

ATLANTA -- Though he was certain he was going to receive the hallowed call, Chipper Jones tossed and turned as he experienced a restless night and attempted to calm the excitement he felt when he received confirmation he now has the distinction of being a first-ballot Hall of Famer.

"I knew today was going to be a day that could possibly change my life forever," Jones said. "You have a handful of instances where something happens that will change your life, with marriages and kids. But professionally, being drafted No. 1 overall in 1990 changed my life forever. Today was another instance where my life will never be the same."

• Complete Hall of Fame voting results

As he was surrounded by friends and family members at his suburban Atlanta home, Jones received a call early Wednesday morning that informed him he had been elected to Baseball's Hall of Fame. He proudly shared the moment with his mom, Lynne, who provided him his inner strength, and his father, Larry Wayne Sr., a devout Mickey Mantle fan who taught Chipper how to switch-hit at a young age and now has the honor of knowing his only son will forever be immortalized with Mantle and the game's other legends in Cooperstown, N.Y.

Video: Watch Chipper Jones get the Hall of Fame call

Shortly after receiving the call, Jones signed a pair of baseballs for Blondie (his mother's nickname) and Hawk (his father's nickname).

"I put their nicknames on it and said we did it and signed it 'HOF '18,'" Jones said. "It was a pretty special feeling."

Video: Chipper on who got his first autograph as a HOFer

Jones, Vladimir Guerrero, Jim Thome and Trevor Hoffman were elected via the ballots cast by qualified Baseball Writers' Association of America members. The quartet will join Modern Baseball Era Committee electees Jack Morris and Alan Trammell to form the Hall of Fame Class of 2018, which will be officially inducted during a July 29 ceremony in Cooperstown.

Video: Chipper, Vlad, Thome, Hoffman all elected to HOF

The only question about Jones' candidacy leading up to the announcement focused on how his vote total would relate to the highest in balloting history. He was included on 97.2 percent of the ballots, matching what his former Braves teammate Greg Maddux received in 2014. The only players to receive a higher percentage were Ken Griffey Jr. (99.3 percent), Tom Seaver (98.8), Nolan Ryan (98.8), Cal Ripken Jr. (98.5), George Brett (98.2), Ty Cobb (98.2), Hank Aaron (97.8), Tony Gwynn (97.6) and Randy Johnson (97.3).

Having worn No. 10 throughout the bulk of his career, Jones thought it was appropriate to now own the 10th-highest percentage in balloting history.

Video: Chipper on what it meant to him to make HOF

Jones' election extends what has recently been a nearly annual late July pilgrimage to Cooperstown for the Braves organization. He now shares the honor that within the past four years was bestowed upon some of his former teammates -- Maddux, Tom Glavine, John Smoltz -- his former manager Bobby Cox and his former general manager John Schuerholz.

Like Maddux, Glavine and Smoltz, Jones was elected in his first appearance on the Hall of Fame ballot, making the Braves the first team in history with four first-ballot teammates who spent 10-plus years with the same club.

"For us to have that little fraternity in a little piece of heaven up there in Cooperstown, New York, it's something that we can and should be very proud of, because we did an awful lot of winning during the '90s and early 2000s in Atlanta," Jones said.

Video: Smoltz congratulates Chipper on entering Hall of Fame

While playing the entirety of his professional career with the Braves, Jones had a .303 batting average with a .401 on-base percentage, a .529 slugging percentage, 468 home runs, 1,623 RBIs and 1,619 runs. He earned eight All-Star selections, garnered the 1999 National League MVP Award and proudly retired having struck out fewer times (1,409) than he walked (1,512).

Jones joins Babe Ruth, Stan Musial, Lou Gehrig, Mel Ott and Ted Williams as one of only six players in MLB history to record a .300 batting average, a .400 on-base percentage, a .500 slugging percentage, 450 home runs, 1,500 walks, 1,600 RBIs and 1,600 runs.

As a young child, Jones used to sneak into his father's closet and grab a Mantle bat. Though he didn't have the strength to swing it, the presence in his hand provided him a sense of what he wanted and needed to do to realize that dream of becoming a Major Leaguer.

Video: Chipper on receiving call to HOF, excitement for July

Selected by the Braves to begin the 1990 MLB Draft, Jones joins Griffey as the Hall of Famers who were a first overall Draft pick. He debuted during the final month of the 1993 season and missed the following season with the first of two torn left anterior cruciate ligaments that would interrupt his career. Jones began his reign as the Braves' starting third baseman at the start of the '95 season, which culminated with Atlanta capturing its only World Series title.

With Jones as a regular in their lineup, the Braves won 11 consecutive division titles from 1995-2005, three NL pennants and that lone World Series championship. He homered twice during his postseason debut (Game 1 of the 1995 NL Division Series against the Rockies) and ended up producing an .864 OPS over 93 postseason games.

Video: Chipper on role of his switch-hitting in HOF career

While playing at the Double-A level, Jones was asked to be present at an autograph signing event that featured Mantle. He nervously rehearsed what he would say and then found himself literally speechless when he was introduced to the switch-hitting Yankees legend.

Twenty-five years later, Jones proudly holds the honor of ranking third all-time among switch-hitters in home runs, batting average, slugging percentage and OPS. He epitomized consistency as he slashed .304/.391/.498 against left-handed pitchers and .303/.405/.541 against right-handers.

"Today has just been a blur," Jones said. "I still can't believe that it's happened."

Mark Bowman has covered the Braves for MLB.com since 2001.

Atlanta Braves