Sports Outside the Beltway

Chipper Jones Closing on Dale Murphy’s Atlanta HR Record

Chipper Jones is leading the National League in home runs — and he’s only four away from Dale Murphy‘s Atlanta Braves career record.

Dale Murphy was in his last season with the Atlanta Braves in 1990 when a skinny high school shortstop walked into the clubhouse. Murphy had no idea the kid, Chipper Jones, would be the player to break his record for most home runs with Atlanta. Then Murphy watched Jones hit. "It was obvious he was a great talent," Murphy said.

Chipper Jones Home Run Near Dale Murphy Atlanta Record Photo Atlanta Braves' Chipper Jones, right, is congratulated by teammate Jeff Francoeur after hitting a two-run home run against the Philadelphia Phillies in the first inning of a baseball game Tuesday, May 1, 2007, in Atlanta. (AP Photo/Todd Bennett)

Now 35, Jones leads the NL with 10 homers and has 367 for his career, only four behind Murphy's Atlanta record.

"I could see this coming a few years ago," Murphy said Wednesday in a telephone interview from his home in Alpine, Utah. "But when he was a high school kid walking through our clubhouse, I didn't think that. It seems like yesterday."

Murphy's Atlanta total could be passed by both Chipper Jones and Andruw Jones (347) this season. "I was thankful to hold it for a while," Murphy said. "I knew quite a few years ago it wouldn't stand with Chipper and Andruw coming along."

The surprise is how quickly Chipper Jones has closed in on Murphy's total. Jones' eight homers in April tied his first-high, set in 1998.

"I feel very lucky to have the numbers I have," Jones said. "I've gotten some results so, hopefully, when I feel like I am locked in, I'll be putting up some really good numbers." Jones isn't complaining because he's been healthy. Jones averaged 155 games per season from 1995-2003, winning the 1999 NL MVP award and posting eight straight 100-RBI seasons. But injuries, including chronic feet problems, have limited him to an average of 119 games during the last three seasons. Jones played in only 110 games last year but still hit .324 with 26 homers and 86 RBIs.

Keep in mind that this is the Atlanta Braves record. A fellow by the name of Henry Aaron hit all but the last 22 of his Major League-leading 755 home runs (that’s 733 for the math challenged) for the Milwaukee and Atlanta Braves. That record’s safe, even if a chemically-enhanced Barry Bonds will likely pass Hammerin’ Hank on the Major League charts later this year.

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