KNOXVILLE, Tenn. — Atlanta Braves legend Chipper Jones was the guest speaker at the annual Greater Knoxville Sports Hall of Fame induction ceremony on Thursday night. The event was held at the Knoxville Convention Center.
Jones played 19 seasons with the Atlanta Braves. He's an eight-time MLB All-Star, the 1999 National League MVP, and in 2018 Jones was inducted into the National Baseball Hall of Fame.
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Jones retired from baseball in 2012 with a 303 career batting average, 468 home runs, and 1,623 runs batted in. He has the most career RBIs for a third baseman and holds the Braves team record for career on-base percentage. Jones also ranks third on the Braves' career home run list.
All ticket and auction proceeds from the Greater Knoxville Sports Hall of Fame benefit the Boys & Girls Clubs of the Tennessee Valley.
Speaking at the hall of fame induction ceremony was important to Jones because he values pouring into the younger generation of baseball fans.
"I'm giving a little bit back of myself," Jones told WBIR. "I want to let them (kids) know anything is possible. I dreamed of playing in the big leagues since I was four years old and retired when I was forty. Anything is possible."
Jones had high praise for Christian Academy of Knoxville alum, now Braves pitcher, Spencer Strider. Strider has a 2.95 earn run average in his first full season in the major leagues and has struck out 151 batters in 100 innings pitched.
"The Braves have had good pitchers come up, but we've never had that flat-out flamethrower. Spencer Strider is that guy." Jones said.
10 people were inducted into the class of 2022. Sharrieffa Barksdale and Buck Jones were inducted for Track & Field, Hoyt Carroll, Gordon Heins and Randy Sanders went in for coaching, Claire Donahue and Joe Hendee were inducted for swimming, Jimmy Hyams went in for media, Vance Link went in as a community contributor and Willie Poplar as all-around.
Former Tennessee softball co-head coach Ralph Weekly was given the Pat Summitt Ignite Greatness Award.
Oak Ridge native and Cincinnati Bengal Tee Higgins was given the Chad Pennington Professional Athlete of the Year Award.
VFL Jason Witten was given the Buck Vaughn Legacy Award.
Farragut High School softball pitcher Avery Flatford was awarded the Will McKamey Spirit Award. and the High School Athlete of the Year awards went to Tia Taylor of Webb School of Knoxville and Knoxville Catholic's and Tennessee basketball freshman, B.J. Edwards.