Chipper Jones' consistency at the plate led him to become the best position player for the Braves since the franchise moved to Atlanta. The impressive amount of playoff appearances for the Braves can be attributed to Chipper's bat nearly as much as the Braves' remarkable pitching. This list of the best Chipper Jones baseball cards includes minor league appearances, major league rookie cards, and certified autographs from throughout his career.
Born Larry Wayne Jones Jr., he got his famous nickname of "Chipper" by reminding his family of his father and being a "chip off the old block," as the expression goes. A top high school player out of Florida, Jones was selected as the first overall pick in the 1990 amateur draft. While initially a prospect at shortstop, Jones grew to be 6' 4" tall and, as he worked through the Braves farm system, he was shifted to third base where he would play most of his career.
Chipper Jones debuted briefly in the 1993 season but, shortly thereafter, tore his ACL, causing him to miss the entire 1994 season. His first season as an everyday starter proved to be a great success as Chipper finished second in NL Rookie of the Year voting after hitting 23 home runs and 86 RBI. Although the Braves would be a perennial playoff team during his career in Atlanta, Jones captured his only World Series title in his first season.
Jones' best season occurred in 1999 when he smacked 45 home runs, 110 RBI, and had a .319 batting average. He was named the NL MVP and also won the 1999 Silver Slugger Award as the league's best-hitting third baseman. Towards the end of his career in 2008, Jones surprised many by recording his highest season batting average at .364 and capturing the National League batting title.
Over his career, Jones totaled 30 home runs and 105 RBI with a .303 average across a 162-game season. His 19 seasons with the Braves allowed him to become the leading hitter in many offensive categories since the team moved to Atlanta from Milwaukee in 1966. As a switch-hitter, Jones is the only player with a .300 or higher batting average and 400 or more home runs, making a strong case for the Hall of Fame, which can come calling as early as 2018.
Pre-dating his MLB career, Chipper appeared in the flagship baseball sets two years before he would debut in the majors and four years before he would become a full-time starter, making it somewhat confusing for fans as to which would be considered his proper rookie cards. Collectors have certainly put a premium on his initial draft cards from 1991 and you'll find several of those cards covered below.
In addition to the signed cards highlighted in the list, a notable Chipper Jones autograph can be found in the 1998 Donruss Back To The Future dual autograph insert that combines a star player and an up-and-coming stud. Jones, the young phenom in this instance, was partnered with Braves Hall of Famer Eddie Mathews. In 2016 Topps Archives, you can find a Jones on-card autograph done in the style of the 1985 Topps #1 Draft Pick cards. In the same set, you can find a new Chipper card in the 1991 Topps style that also offers a Desert Shield stamp as a short-printed variation, just like his famous rookie card.
Chipper Jones arrived in professional baseball just at the peak of the overproduction era, making many of his pre-rookie and rookie cards very available to collectors on any budget. In placing the cards on this list, card value and popularity with collectors were the main factors.
Top 10 Chipper Jones Baseball Cards
Click on the card titles or images to shop for specific cards on eBay. Linked sets in the descriptions go straight to product profiles.
The 1991 Bowman set expanded from 528 cards to 704 and Bowman used those extra spots to sculpt one of the strongest checklists of the early 1990s. Full of key rookie cards, the set is similar to the 1953 Bowman design as it relies on close-up photographs instead of action shots. Jones appears as the #1 draft pick from the previous year's draft. While it would be two more years before he would play his first major league game for the Atlanta Braves, that didn't stop the card from becoming the most valuable in the set.
A notable Chipper Jones signature can be found in 1999 Topps Stadium Club where he shares a Co-Signers dual autograph card with New York Yankees legend Derek Jeter. Co-Signers autographs could be pulled one in every 254 packs of Stadium Club, on average. You can also find Jones in other combination autographs with Alex Rodriguez, Scott Rolen, and a quadruple autograph card featuring all four players. These are all tough to track down.
The 1992 Topps Stadium Club set was divided into three series and inserted into the third series were three cards devoted to the #1 draft picks in the 1990, 1991, and 1992 amateur drafts. Jones is featured as card #1 followed by prospects Brien Taylor and Phil Nevin. The cards differ slightly from the standard '92 Stadium Club design as they feature foil stamping down the right side and a "#1 Draft Pick of the 90's" notation at the bottom.
While most of Chipper's rookie cards show him in a posed photograph, his 1991 Upper Deck Top Prospects card features him preparing to field a grounder. Jones was still a shortstop at this point in his career but his fair-to-average fielding skills eventually pushed him around the horn to third base. His offensive production there was nearly unmatched by any other third baseman and his career total of 1,623 RBI places him two hundred above first-ballot Hall of Famer Mike Schmidt.
A key highlight of the 1995 Bowman set is the silver etched-foil cards for the Prime Prospects, Minor League MVPs, and 1st Impressions subsets. These cards averaged one in every pack and collectors can find Chipper's card (featured on the left) in the Prime Prospects subset. For those fans eager for the chase, they can search for the most sought-after cards from the product which are the gold variations (featured below on the right) that could be pulled at a rate of 1:6 packs in '95 Bowman.
The mixed-up nature of the early cards of Chipper's career helped the push to create standard rules governing when card companies could issue a player's true rookie card. In Chipper's case, he had cards in every major card brand before he even became a star in the minor leagues. For example, his minor league card in 1992 Classic Best (below on the left) comes a year after his Topps rookie in 1991 Topps. Today, players have to be named to a 25-man roster before their rookie card can be released, meaning Chipper's rookie would have been issued in 1993 under these rules.
After playing with the Macon Braves, Chipper was moved to the Braves' Single A-Advanced team, the Durham Bulls. Inserted into packs of 1992 Classic Best are Blue Bonus and Red Bonus cards (below on the right). These cards were similar to the base card but have the white border removed and feature either blue or red foil stamping on a redesigned lower half of the card.
Members of the Topps Stadium Club had the opportunity to purchase an exclusive 750-card set of 1993 Stadium Club that features "Members Only" foil stamping in the upper-right corner of each card. The cards themselves were identical to the regular base cards except for the foil stamping and production is estimated to be around 12,000 individual sets, making Members Only one of the most limited releases of the era.
Collectors can find Chipper's autograph in both the Millennium Marks and Century Marks subsets in 1997 Donruss Signature. The Millennium Marks autographs have a green background (featured below on the left) and Century Marks have a blue backdrop. As the names of the sets suggest, Millennium autographs are generally numbered to 1,000 copies and Century Marks are limited to 100. However, it is believed that Jones only signed 900 of the Millennium cards. Amazingly, original packs from this product were only $15 and featured an autograph in every pack. He also signed for the 1998 set, which is shown on the right.
Upper Deck dipped their toe into the super-premium card world with 1993 SP and the set remains very popular with collectors. Jones is featured in the Premier Prospects subset that includes the famous Derek Jeter rookie card. Although Chipper's appearance in the set isn't technically considered a rookie card, it is one of his most popular cards on the secondary market. Due to the fragile nature of the beautiful foil design that is easily damaged or chipped, highly graded copies of his card can top $500 at auction.
Collectors have two main variation options in picking up the top Chipper Jones cards out there with his 1991 Topps rookie card. The gold stamped Operation Desert Shield version (featured on the left) is limited to about 6,800 copies through sets that were made available to service men and women serving in Iraq and Kuwait. Below on the right, you'll find the glossy Tiffany version of his rookie card which was limited to several thousand copies, although a specific 1991 Topps Tiffany print run is unknown. No Tiffany cards were included with the Desert Shield cards, so fans looking for a high-end Chipper rookie can't go wrong with either option.