Many places have mentioned making baseball more racially inclusive and wanting to ensure that all races and cultures feel welcome in the game. Some have started “programs”. Baltimore Orioles outfielder Adam Jones steps forward and becomes part of the solution.
Growing up in San Diego, California, Adam Jones was a first round draft pick by the Seattle Mariners and rose up quickly in prospect rankings before being the centerpiece of a deal that brought him to the Baltimore Orioles and sent Erik Bedard to the Mariners.
Just 20 when he made his debut in 2006, Jones has been considered a star for much of his career with the Baltimore Orioles, an exceptional center field defender that provides power and speed at the plate. He has made just short of $100 million playing the game and will be a free agent this offseason. Though he is heading into his age-33 season, Jones has been plenty good, and he will likely command a multi-year deal for 8 figures annually.
A player with that kind of stardom and financial pull typically shies away from the light, especially when it comes to issues like race and giving money. Becoming a public pariah due to outspoken words on a divisive topic is something most players want to avoid, and openly giving money to organizations opens a player up for hundreds of solicitations for more and more of their money.
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Instead of standing back and staying out of the limelight when it comes to the issues in promoting the game of baseball among African-American youth in the country, Jones has jumped in with both feet. He’s taken the time to really get to understand the past for “black” ballplayers.
Jones made a very public trip to the Negro Leagues Museum in Kansas City last May and was so moved that he made a 5-figure donation to the Museum to support the efforts of the Negro Leagues Museum to tell the story of black baseball in the country.
Friday, Jones worked to take his personal influence on the game from education to impact, as he donated $8,500 to the Mamie Johnson Little League team from Washington, D.C. The team is on their way to compete in a regional tournament, with the winner going to Williamsport for the Little League World Series. The team is predominantly African-American, and as soon as he heard about the need for a bus to get to the tournament being a financial concern, Jones didn’t hesitate. He stepped up and wrote an $8,500 check. His contribution will allow not only the team to have a bus, but will also allow for better equipment and future participation for the team.
Adam Jones is likely in his last season as a member of the Baltimore Orioles, but when he hits free agency, whichever team does sign him will be getting a player who has been notably present and involved in his community his entire career, being award multiple times over by Major League Baseball for his community efforts.
Baseball needs more of Adam Jones – not just among active players, but among former players, among front office personnel, among coaching personnel. Using more than words to affect change is often bypassed in favor of keeping hands clean. Jones digs in with both hands!