COOPERSTOWN, N.Y. - Chipper Jones never started a game at the top of a lineup card during his illustrious baseball career. Sunday, however, in his words, he'll be "batting leadoff."
"I said, 'you know what, she's going to be in labor for a little while, she's in the hospital, I can shoot right over, get it done, and get back," said Jones. "They want to get me on the stage and get me off."
Jones is scheduled to speak first at Sunday's Baseball Hall of Fame induction ceremony because his wife, Taylor, is pregnant and due any day now. They plan to name their son Cooper, after Cooperstown, though the preference is to have him born in Atlanta.
That's added a wrinkle to Jones' Hall of Fame experience -- though he's enjoying the more predictable aspects as well. That included some ribbing from current Hall of Famers, and pressure about his much-anticipated speech.
"I can't go too long, I can't make any mistakes," said Jones. "I'm keeping my binder [with the speech] on me because I know they're going to steal it from me at some point."
The weekend has been fun, but also emotional: a culmination of a baseball career, and a moment he saw coming but now is feeling real.
"I mean, are you kidding me?" said Jones. "Little ole Chipper from Pierson, Florida [in the Hall of Fame]? It's mind-blowing."