Chipper hits No. 400 against Marlins

Chipper hits No. 400

ATLANTA -- Chipper Jones paused for a brief moment Thursday night to admire his sailing blast. He held onto the bat for a second longer than usual, then dropped it and circled the bases for the 400th time in his career.

It was a historic night in Atlanta, one that resulted in a rare curtain call for Jones, just the second in his remarkable 15-year career.

"It was nice," Jones said of his first curtain call since hitting a homer off Mets lefty Al Leiter in 1999. "Truly appreciated, and it's hopefully one of a few more -- we'll see."

A standing ovation from the crowd of 27,238 after Jones belted No. 400 was the least they could have done for the Braves' slugger.

A montage played on the video board after the sixth inning that showed some of Jones' remarkable accomplishments.

"I was blushing the whole time," Jones said. "I didn't really expect anything like that."

The highlights showed his first -- a smash in Shea Stadium in 1995 -- to his latest -- a deep fly ball to right field on a 2-0 slider from Marlins starter Ricky Nolasco that didn't get in nearly far enough.

"I'm glad it wasn't a wall scraper and I could enjoy it," Jones said, later adding, "It was just a huge monkey off my back to get a hold of one and know it was going out and enjoy the moment."

Jones said he immediately thought of his family as he rounded the bases.

"I'm just grateful that it happened here at home in front of the home fans and in front of my family; my whole family was here tonight," Jones said.

At the age of 36, when players are supposed to be in the twilight of their careers, Jones is enjoying his most productive season yet. His .418 batting average is tops in the Majors, as is his .498 on-base percentage.

"He's one of the greatest hitters of this generation," catcher Brian McCann said.

McCann grew up idolizing Jones when he burst into the Braves' organization in the early 1990s. Now, McCann is playing beside Jones, and has developed a friendship with someone whom he calls "one of the best switch-hitters of all-time."

McCann certainly has a point there.

Jones' 400th puts him in elite company. The only switch-hitters with more homers than Jones are Mickey Mantle (536) and Eddie Murray (504).

Health permitting, Jones thinks he has a good shot to reach those legends, but acknowledged, "I'm still a long way from those guys. They've set the bar really, really high."

With his homer Thursday, Jones became just the fourth active player to have a career average of at least .300, hit 400 or more homers and record at least 1,300 RBIs. Frank Thomas, Alex Rodriguez and Manny Ramirez are the others.

"He's quite the player," said manager Bobby Cox, who has witnessed every one of Jones' 400 homers. "He's just having a fabulous season, he gets better with age.

"He's been part of the face of this organization for a decade-and-a-half now."

It's been a record-breaking week for Jones, whose homer on Tuesday moved him past Braves great Dale Murphy on the all-time home run list. His single later that game also put him in second place on the club's all-time hit list, ahead of Eddie Mathews. Jones now has 2,206 career hits.

"If you want to teach a kid how to hit, you watch his every move," McCann said. "I'm a little kid in his back pocket."

Ryan Lavner is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.