1991 Topps Chipper Jones
We are down to the last ten on the Top 50 on Cardboard Countdown which starts with Braves star Chipper Jones. My initial run ins with Chipper the player and Chipper the guy on cardboard were less than stellar. Of course, I ran into Chipper on cardboard sometime during the spring or summer of 1991. Goofy kid with a goofy name. I also remember watching the 1996 National League Championship Series in my dorm room at college and being thoroughly disappointed at seeing the Braves steamroll the Cardinals three straight games to erase a 3-1 series deficit. Chipper was in the middle of it all, and at the time, was very much a player who was very low on my likeability radar. He kind of stayed there for awhile, along with Javy Lopez. After moving to North Carolina in the fall of 2005 I ran into a lot of Braves fans and started to develop a healthy respect for the Braves third baseman. The longer I lived in the south the more and more my respect shifted into admiration. Watching Chipper Jones play almost every day and talking to Braves fans all the time lead me to this conclusion: I am missing out on a good player. At some point in 2007 I began picking up cool Chipper Jones cards. While I do not have a real high end collection of the future Hall of Famer, I am really happy with amount of cool cards I have amassed of the Braves star on the side. It will definitely deserve a post in the future.
Chipper Jones has always been a popular figure around the hobby starting with his 1991 Topps rookie. His large hobby profile has meant that collectors have had thousands of different Chipper Jones cards hit the secondary market ranging from the usual spattering of base cards all the way up to short printed autographs and relic cards which can often sell for hundreds of dollars. While I have grown to enjoy Chipper Jones and collect his cards, I am not into the really high end stuff. So, when I start looking around for Chipper Jones I stay on my budget, but look for things that are really cool. One of my favorite Braves sets is the 2000 UD Hologrfx World Series Base. Hard to find at times, but really affordable. I am not big into the "base relic" since they are common property to everyone on the field, but these are cool. Here's my Chipper:
2000 Upper Deck Hologrfx Chipper Jones World Series Base
This card is rare enough to make it a challenge to find, but might run a collector between $10 and $20 depending on where and when they stumbled across the card. There are tons of other cool Chipper Jones cards just like this World Series base card which is one of the benefits of collecting a player with such a large market. It's unrealistic to think that anyone person can pull off collecting the ten and thousands of Chipper Jones cards out there. I am sure that people try, but it's just unrealistic. While certain cards from certain sets are always going to draw a premium, there are lots of cool Chipper cards that float through the cracks because of the sheer volume involved in collecting his cards. This principle applies for other high end players too.
While I am not going to scan them all, I also recommend looking into the following Chipper cards:
-1999 Skybox Metal Oh Atlanta
-1998, 1999, and 2003 Skybox EX Essential Credential Cards
-1992 Fleer Excel Durham Bulls
-2005 Prime Patches Relics and 2009 Topps Unique Relics
-Flair Hot Gloves Cards
The real prize in collecting a higher end, Hall of Fame player like Chipper Jones is landing a really cool autograph. Chipper has signed a ton over the years, but his autographs still hold a ton of value for collectors. There some of the toughest autographs to trade for in my opinion, so buying is the better option here. Ever Chipper autograph I have ever traded for, or tried to trade for, has come with a story about how, where, and how much it cost the person. You never catch a break in price, so just buy the one you want and create your own story.
I have a couple of Chipper Jones autographs floating around in my collection, but here is my favorite and the story behind it.
2000 SPX Signatures Chipper Jones Autograph
I landed my first Chipper Jones autograph over Thanksgiving holiday in 2000. I finished up my last day of teaching before break and felt exhausted. I left work and drove down Olive Blvd. in Creve Couer, Missouri for one of my favorite card shops of the day: All-Star Sports Cards. While it's closed now, the owner was an awesome guy, Howard, and was always awesome to me every time I came into the shop. He offered me a good deal on a box of SPX, which had been a really hot set that summer, and I decided to jump on that rather than holding out a week for the new 2001 products. I took the box home and opened the packs. Pulled nothing at first, which seemed to be pretty typical of my luck with high end products, but the last pack I pulled my Chipper. It's still in my collection today, but I have added a nicer copy of this autograph to go with it. At the time I pulled the card it was definitely one of my better pulls and better autographs in my collection. While I certainly own more valuable cards than this one today, it still ranks as one of my favorite autographs in my collection.
On The Field-
Chipper Jones didn't quite get to 3,000 hits and he didn't quite get to 500 home runs, but he's a no doubt slam dunk Hall of Famer in most people's book. Mike Piazza isn't in the Hall yet, so it might take Chipper a few years longer than it should, but he will get there. Chipper was the big offensive cog on the 90s and 2000s Braves teams which won a lot of regular season games, but seemed to always come up just short in the post-season. Baseball has a really long season and the playoffs are always a crap shoot. Just because you're the best team on paper rarely means that you're the last team standing.
JAWS ranks Chipper Jones as the fifth best third baseman of all-time which places him in the middle of the Hall of Fame players at the position. Schmidt, Matthews, Boggs, and Brett all rank higher. However, Chipper Jones ranks higher than Ron Santo, Brooks Robinson, Paul Molitor, and Adrian Beltre (don't hate-he belongs here). His OPS+ moves him up to third amongst Hall of Fame third baseman, but also puts him behind Miguel Cabrera who won't be remembered or ranked as a third baseman eventually.
Chipper does not have one category or area where he shines. There are not any top ten rankings in any categories, but he ranks in the top 100 to top 50 in almost every offensive category that can measured. His highest ranking on the all-time leader boards looks to be walks where he ranks 16th all-time. Chipper was just a really good all around player and will be a deserving member of the Hall of Fame whenever they get around to putting him in.
Often considered Chipper's "other" rookie card, the 1992 Bowman card is kind of a cult classic for 90s baseball card collectors. I have never heard where or what they were doing in this picture, but you've got some good early 90s fashion in a flower bed of cacti. This is the same set that has a picture of Manny Ramirez just "hanging out" at Duke University, so I am sure this card has an equally awesome story. I just have not heard it yet.