Without a doubt, Atlanta Braves’ Chipper Jones is the best baseball player to play third base since Alexander Doubleday or whoever invented the game. Yeah, Mike Schmidt hit more home runs and Brooks Robinson played better defense than Chipper, but with two outs, down by one run, bases loaded, we all know which one had the best chance of winning the game.
In 2002, Jones volunteered to switch positions to left field, allowing the Braves to trade for Vinny Castilla. With Castilla, the Braves could maintain their National League preeminence. Like successful investors, Jones looked at the big picture. While catcher is more physically demanding, fewer third basemen make the Hall of Fame than any other position. If the Baseball Writers’ Association of America does not elect Jones to the Hall of Fame on the first ballot, close up the honky tonk and lock all the doors.
In Jones’ autobiography, “Ballplayer,” we see an oft-told financial lesson or two. In his book, Jones tees off on uber-agent Scott “Show me the money” Boras. Jones recollects walking out of his initial meeting with Boras after a few minutes believing the flashy agent was not a good fit. He later met with Braves’ representatives at an Olive Garden and signed a contract. After reading Jones’ account the brash Boras fired back claiming the meal cost Jones over $900,000, but “he got free breadsticks.”
Boras had pitched a $1 million-plus signing bonus for Jones, and while that sounds good, large up-front money turns teams off. Jones ended up signing with the Braves for $275,000, hence Boras’ scorn. On Twitter, Jones replied he felt he would make money in the big leagues and a front-loaded contract would limit teams’ interest. Like a shrewd investor, Chipper Jones avoided the trap of short-term thinking. By focusing long-term, Jones forged an incredibly lucrative 27-year (and counting) relationship that has extended past his playing career.
Jones scorched Boras who learned the hard way (maybe) you should sometimes keep your mouth shut (or your fingers off the Twitter feed) and be thought a fool than to open it and remove all doubt. That $900,000 ($2 million in 2017 dollars) is not chump change, but Jones’ total salary as a Brave was over $166 million. Jones restructured contracts and even walked away from a $10 million option for an additional season. Mr. Boras, Chipper has something money can’t buy, Hall of Fame membership.
In a final twist of the literary knife, Jones thanked Boras for the free book publicity. Not signing with Boras made him more money as a player and Boras’ hoopla could mean increased book sales after Jones hung up his spikes.
Investing is like a baseball season, there will be hills and valleys, but you want to avoid the Grand Canyon.
You can’t always get what you want, but Buz Livingston, CFP can help figure out what you need. For specific recommendations, visit livingstonfinancial.net or come by the office in Redfish Village, 2050 Scenic 30A, M-1 Suite 230.