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'I've messed up royally'

Braves' Jones admits fathering out-of-wedlock child

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Posted: Friday October 23, 1998 11:23 AM

  Jones has reportedly admitted to having several affairs during 1997 Tom Hauck/Allsport

ATLANTA (AP) -- Atlanta Braves third baseman Chipper Jones, perhaps the team's most recognizable star, has acknowledged publicly that he fathered an illegitimate child born seven months ago.

"I've messed up royally," Jones said Wednesday during an interview with Morris News Service at his Atlanta home. "I've messed up just about as bad as a man can mess up without killing somebody. I've committed adultery and I'll pay for that the rest of my life.

"I want to take this opportunity to publicly apologize to my wife, to the fans and to the Braves organization for not representing myself very well and not doing the things all those people expect me to do. I ask for forgiveness."

Jones sat with his wife, Karin, and described the pain he caused when he told her about an affair he began with a Michigan woman 18 months ago, the news service said.

"It was the worst day of my life. It was terrible," he said. "Just seeing how much pain I can inflict on another human being without putting my hands on them is just unbelievable. I'll never do it again."

The affair was one of several Jones had following the 1996 World Series, the news service said. During the Braves' final spring training in West Palm Beach, Florida, in March 1997, he met a waitress at Hooter's and the woman, who has returned to her Michigan home, gave birth to a boy in March.

Jones said he will support the child, although details have not been worked out.

"I was going through a pretty rebellious period where it didn't matter what Karin said, I was going to do the opposite," Jones said. "I was really self-absorbed."

Jones met his wife while he played at Class A Macon in 1991. They were married after the 1992 season.

They sought counseling last winter, and Jones said he has turned away from the bar scene.

"You keep getting temptation thrown in your face and eventually you're going to slip up," he said. "I had to make a decision on what the most important thing in my life was. The most important thing was Karin."

Mrs. Jones said her Christian background had helped her through the troubled time. Asked why she stayed with Jones after he admitted his affairs, she admitted, "I almost didn't. Honestly, it was faith, pure and full. I didn't stay because of the ballplayer, that's for darn sure, because I hated the ballplayer at that point.

"It was because of all I had invested in the relationship. I got on my knees, fought with God, ran, went to counselors, called my friends in the wee hours of the morning and went through a severe depression about leaving for good," she said.

The two said their relationship is improving.

"The most important thing to me is not baseball, it's not image, it's reconciling; it's getting my priorities straight again," Jones said. "I'm kind of throwing myself into my relationship with my wife right now, trying to make things work."

With his all-American image, Jones is a spokesman for the Braves' Big League Lunch Program for area schoolchildren and devotes much of his free time during the season to baseball clinics for kids.

"I want to be a better role model," he said. "I've gone out to schools and I've been on TV and I've said all the right things and it appears like I've done all the right things, but I was really leading kind of a hypocritical life.

"It's time I started practicing what I'm preaching," Jones said.  

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