DANVILLE, IN—The U.S. populace reacted with confusion, astonishment, and mild disgust upon discovering that 12-year-old little-leaguer Jonathan Keefer's favorite major-league baseball player is none other than Atlanta Braves third baseman Chipper Jones.
Though Jones, who some called a "decent enough player" and "consistent, at least," is a six-time All Star, many are having a difficult time accepting that the 1999 MVP could actually be somebody's all-time favorite player.
"I know I shouldn't care, but I don't quite get it," San Francisco resident Fred Lynn, 52, told reporters. "This kid could have picked anyone he wanted, so what about [Derek] Jeter, David Ortiz, CC Sabathia, or David Wright? I mean, even A-Rod would make more sense than this. I wouldn't like it, but I'd understand."
"Keefer loving Chipper Jones is like me worshipping [former Pittsburgh Pirate] Al Oliver instead of Willie Mays," Lynn added. "Al Oliver wasn't bad. He was actually pretty good. But do you remember who Al Oliver was? Of course not. He just kind of faded into the background."
According to official Little League Baseball records, Keefer is the only little-leaguer in the last 10 years to list Chipper Jones as his favorite player. Moreover, Little League sources confirmed that even during the height of Jones' popularity in the mid- to late '90s, only 14 young players considered him to be among their favorites, with a total of zero actually idolizing him.
The nation was reportedly speechless when word spread that Keefer isn't even from Atlanta.
"Maybe he's just doing this to be funny," 26-year-old Cleveland resident Corey Bell said. "When I was 16 or 17, a bunch of my friends and I pretended to like David Justice purely for the kitsch value. Or maybe this boy's just being ironic. At least, you'd hope that's the case."
Fueling the nation's bafflement are further revelations, confirmed by Keefer's family and Danville Little League officials, that Keefer plays center field, not third base; isn't in any way related to Jones; and was serious when he asked his parents for a Chipper Jones baseball jersey last Christmas.
These facts, compounded with the undeniable reality of Chipper Jones being a member of the Atlanta Braves, made it even more difficult for citizens to comprehend why Keefer tries to emulate Jones' fielding style and batting stance.
"He just really likes Chipper Jones, I guess," Keefer's father told reporters. "What are you going to do?"
As information continues to surface about Keefer's odd choice of baseball hero, the nation was shocked to learn that Keefer not only has posters of Chipper Jones hanging in his bedroom, but also Chipper Jones baseball cards, which he makes a point of refusing to trade to his friends.
"We've told him we don't care even a little, but Jon's always like, 'You're not getting my [1997 Topps] Chipper Jones card today.' And I totally swear to God, he's being dead serious," classmate Ryan Hodge said. "Nobody wants that card. It's not even a rookie. I think he actually has the rookie card in one of those thick screw-on containers."
"That's how my dad has his Mickey Mantle cards," Hodge added.
According to a CBS News/New York Times poll, 42 percent of the U.S. populace couldn't fathom why Keefer was heartbroken when Jones failed to hit .400 last season. Twenty-three percent claimed they "did not understand" what they were being told upon hearing that Keefer purposely wears the same brand of cleats and batting gloves as Jones. A further 12 percent said they were "angered" that Keefer made his father take him to a baseball card show in Indianapolis where Jones was signing autographs.
The poll's remaining respondents thought Chipper Jones retired five years ago.
"I'm from Atlanta, and I don't even understand it," Scott Wedner, 34, said. "Don't get me wrong, Chipper Jones is a good ball player, maybe even a Hall of Famer. He led our team to a World Series, and might be one of the top three switch-hitters in the history of the game. But he's Chipper Jones, you know?"