As the spring training days while away, conversations around the batting cage tend to wander away from the game.
Just recently, Atlanta Braves' star third baseman Chipper Jones took up a topic he's mulled seriously over the years: the assassination of President John F. Kennedy.
“Having shot a hunting rifle all my life, I personally believe there was more than one shooter,” the six-time All Star said before an exhibition game at Disney’s Wide World of Sports. “The conspiracy behind it is what really intrigues me.
“I’m sure it went pretty high but I don’t know how high. Let’s just say somebody had to put it into motion -- and it was somebody high-ranking in the U.S. government.”
Although Jones was born in 1972, nine years after Kennedy was assassinated during a Dallas motorcade on Nov. 22, 1963, he heard about the event from his father, Larry Wayne Jones, when they lived in DeLand, Fla.
“It interests my dad,” Jones said. “He always said it was one of the five biggest defining moments of his life. And I did numerous reports on it when I was in school.”
The 1999 National League MVP has not read The Texas Connection, a book implicating Vice President Johnson as the architect of the assassination.
“I’m not so naïve to think that Lyndon Johnson was behind it,” Jones said. “I would never say that in a million years.”
The Warren Commission, chaired by former Supreme Court Chief Justice Earl Warren, concluded that Lee Harvey Oswald, firing at the motorcade from the Texas School Book Depository, was the lone shooter involved in the Kennedy assassination.
Shortly after doctors at Parkland Memorial Hospital pronounced the president dead, Johnson was given the oath of office as president.
Now a Texas rancher, Jones has visited Dallas several times but has yet to explore the JFK assassination museum in the old Texas School Book Depository building.
“I’m going to go at one point,” he said, “but I don’t know when. The whole subject fascinates me.”
Dan Schlossberg of Fair Lawn, N.J. is the author of 35 books on baseball. He has covered baseball spring training every year since 1971.
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