MOULTRIE — Many fans can recall a number of highlights in Chipper Jones’s 19-year Hall of Fame career with the Atlanta Braves.

The World Series win over Cleveland in 1995. The 1999 MVP season. The 2008 batting championship.

But how about his final game? His last at bat? How did that illustrious career end?

John Nogowski, a longtime sportswriter who has worked for both the Thomasville Times-Enterprise and the Tallahassee Democrat, has recently updated his book “Last Time Out,” which recounts how 44 former major leaguers ended their illustrious careers.

Its 313 pages feature last looks at some of baseball early greats, including Christy Mathewson, Walter Johnson, Shoeless Joe Jackson, Ty Cobb, Babe Ruth and Lou Gehrig.

Stan Musial, Mickey Mantle, Roberto Clemente, Hank Aaron are among the others who get their due here.

The finales of more recent stars, including Tony Gwynn, Ken Griffey Jr., Derek Jeter and David Ortiz are recounted. Even four players — Barry Bonds, Mark McGwire, Sammy Sosa and Roger Clements — whose controversial careers have not yet resulted in trips to Cooperstown are included.

Nogowski found the idea for this unique look at some of baseball’s most celebrated players two decades ago when he met the writer John Updike, who had written a now iconic story for The New Yorker about Ted Williams’s last game in 1960.

As most fans know, Williams famously homered in his last at bat, the 521st of his career.

What Updike said that surprised Nogoski was that there were fewer than 11,000 fans in Fenway Park that day to watch Williams’ long fly disappear into the Red Sox bullpen.

Nogowski also recalled Babe Ruth hitting three home runs late in his career as a member of the Boston Braves.

But, no, they didn’t come in his final game. The 40-year-old Babe’s final at bat, five days after his three-homer game, resulted in a ground out to Philadelphia’s Dolph Camilli.

The meeting with Updike spurred Nogowski into delving further into how the careers of Williams, Ruth and other venerated stars ended.

The research, much more time-consuming then than it is now with the internet’s reach much expanded, led to a first volume of the book.

The updated version is replete with rare stories and anecdotes, some that even the most faithful of baseball fans might not have heard.

“Last Time Out”  also  has a final chapter that recalls the first major league experience of his son, also John Nogowski, who had brief stints with the St. Louis Cardinals and the Pittsburgh Pirates.

Young John was an outstanding player at Florida State and was drafted in 2014 by the Oakland A’s. He got his first major league hit in 2020 off Dallas Keuchel of the Chicago White Sox. In 2021, he played 33 games with the Pittsburgh Pirates, hitting .261 with one home run and 14 RBIs.

This year, he played part of the season with the Atlanta Braves affiliated Gwinnett Stripers and, after being signed by the Washington Nationals, also played for their Rochester Red Wings.

The elder Nogowski, who recently retired as an AP Language, English and Journalism teacher at Gadsden County High School in Havana, Fla., will hold a book signing from 2-4 p.m. on Saturday at The Bookshelf, at 126 S. Broad Street in Thomasville. “Last Time Out” is also available from Amazon.

By the way, Chipper Jones went out with a base hit, although it was a broken-bat infield bouncer off Jason Motte of the St. Louis Cardinals in the 2012 wild card game in front of 52,631 fans at Turner Field.

React to this story:

1
0
0
0
0

Trending Video

Recommended for you