Adam Jones will be leav­ing a win­ner

If to­day is his last game as an Ori­ole, the outfielder will be re­mem­bered for off-field work as much as his on-field play

Baltimore Sun Sunday - - FRONT PAGE - By Ed­uardo A. Encina

When Adam Jones com­mit­ted to the Ori­oles with a six-year, $85 mil­lion con­tract ex­ten­sion in May 2012, he said he never saw him­self wear­ing an­other uni­form. The San Diego na­tive spoke about how Bal­ti­more was now his city.

But to­day’s sea­son fi­nale against the Hous­ton Astros at Cam­den Yards could be the cur­rent long­est-tenured Ori­ole’s last game in black and or­ange. As the 33-yearold cen­ter fielder’s con­tract ex­pires, the club has em­barked on a tear-down and re­build amid the worst year in its his­tory.

If the Ori­oles had their way, Jones would have been part of the mid­sea­son purge that traded away stand­outs Manny Machado, Zach Brit­ton, Jonathan Schoop, Kevin Gaus­man, Dar­ren O’Day and Brad Brach. But his longevity in Bal­ti­more worked to his ad­van­tage, his 10-and-5 rights — 10 years of ma­jor league ser­vice and at least five years with the same team — al­low­ing him to block an at­tempted deal to the Philadel­phia Phillies, ex­tend­ing his Ori­oles ten­ure by two

months.

Noth­ing now stands in the way of a part­ing with the team that ac­quired Jones in 2008. He saw his share of los­ing early on, but Jones be­came a face of the Ori­oles’ resur­gence from 2012 to 2016, when af­ter 14 straight los­ing sea­sons he led a core that took the club to three play­off ap­pear­ances in five years, in­clud­ing the Amer­i­can League Cham­pi­onship Se­ries berth in 2014.

If this is in­deed the end, Jones will leave be­hind a le­gacy ex­ceeded by only a hand­ful of Bal­ti­more pro­fes­sional ath­letes. His on-field pro­duc­tion puts him on many Ori­oles all-time top-10 lists. He has five All-Star ap­pear­ances, four Gold Glove Awards for de­fen­sive ex­cel­lence, and the three trips to the post­sea­son.

Jones has been the de facto team cap­tain for most of his time with the Ori­oles, his postgame vic­tory pies a hall­mark of the team’s most suc­cess­ful pe­riod.

But it is his ef­forts off the field that many will re­mem­ber just as much. Dur­ing his 11 years in Bal­ti­more, Jones has of­fered his name, time and money to such causes as youth base­ball and the Boys & Girls Clubs.

“From the start, this Cal­i­for­nia na­tive em­braced Bal­ti­more and never let go,” said for­mer Mayor Stephanie Rawl­ings-Blake, who reg­u­larly par­tic­i­pated in com­mu­nity events with Jones. “It will be a sad day if Adam Jones leaves the O’s.”

He has won nearly every com­mu­nity ser­vice honor awarded to a ma­jor lea­guer. In 2015, for in­stance, he was named Marvin Miller Man of the Year, an honor given by the Ma­jor League Base­ball Play­ers As­so­ci­a­tion. That same year, Jones won the MLB Play­ers Alumni As­so­ci­a­tion Brooks Robin­son Com­mu­nity Ser­vice Award and re­ceived the Gov­er­nor’s Ser­vice Award from Mary­land Gov. Larry Ho­gan.

Jones and his fam­ily — his wife, Audie, a Bal­ti­more na­tive, and their two sons — have made their home here. They live in the Reis­ter­stown es­tate for­merly owned by Cal Rip­ken Jr., re­cently mov­ing from their home in Lutherville-Ti­mo­nium.

“I have a hard time think­ing of any­one fill­ing his shoes in both re­gards — on the field and in the com­mu­nity with what he’s done here over the last 10-plus years,” Ori­oles first base­man Trey Mancini said.

Jones doesn’t like to talk much about his off-field con­tri­bu­tions. He de­clined to be in­ter­viewed for this ar­ti­cle, but par­took in a group in­ter­view Satur­day.

“I think it’s re­ally cool, the im­pact that an in­di­vid­ual can make,” Jones said. “We go into this as ath­letes and we try to live out our dream of just play­ing our sport, and when you have suc­cess, [with it] comes a lot of other av­enues that you can bless other peo­ple. Me com­ing here bright-eyed, not know­ing what was at stake for me, I came here and played my tail off and it turned into suc­cess. And the suc­cess on the field al­lowed me to meet with com­mu­nity lead­ers, com­mu­nity pro­gram ad­vis­ers and to ex­pand my­self and my reach to dif­fer­ent com­mu­ni­ties and dif­fer­ent peo­ple, which has been I think the big­gest bless­ing.”

Ori­oles man­ager Buck Showal­ter said he re­spects how Jones has given of him­self off the field. “He’s not ram­ming it down any­body’s throat, say­ing, ‘This is what you’ve got to do,’ ” Showal­ter said. “He’s al­ways been a guy by ex­am­ple. And it means get­ting up some­times af­ter a night game and go­ing to a YMCA or what­ever. It’s get­ting up and be­ing there for some­body, be­ing some­one that they can ask or reach out to and know there’s a chance they’re go­ing to get a pos­i­tive re­sponse. A lot of peo­ple talk the talk, but he backed it up.”

Jones, who grew up poor in a dru­grid­den neigh­bor­hood in San Diego, made his mark on the city from early in his time with the Ori­oles. In 2012, he in­vited a Re­vi­tal­iz­ing Base­ball in In­ner Cities team in North­east Bal­ti­more to at­tend the news con­fer­ence an­nounc­ing his ex­ten­sion. The play­ers from the Gar­denville Grays league thought they were just at­tend­ing an Ori­oles game. Jones asked the league pres­i­dent, Will Brown, for a team photo with all the Gar­denville play­ers’ sig­na­tures on it as a me­mento for his big day.

“The kids didn’t be­lieve me when I said, ‘Hey, Adam Jones wants your au­to­graph,’ ” Brown said. “They were like, ‘Get out of here.’ ”

Jones first be­came in­volved with the league while do­ing an Ori­oles youth clinic. He later was a speaker at the or­ga­ni­za­tion’s fundrais­ing ban­quet. Every year, he’d do­nate signed bats and balls for the team’s auc­tion. He be­came a fre­quent vis­i­tor to their games. He took them to the movies. “These kids have been around him so much that they weren’t even star-struck by him any­more,” Brown said.

Jones’ con­tri­bu­tions weren’t con­fined to base­ball. He’s given more than $400,000 to the Boys & Girls Clubs of Met­ro­pol­i­tan Bal­ti­more, do­nat­ing to ren­o­vate four dif­fer­ent clubs in the city and spon­sor­ing a schol­ar­ship. For the sixth straight year, Jones will host a fundrais­ing tail­gate be­fore a home Ravens game — this year’s event is Nov. 25 — that ben­e­fits the clubs. Last year’s event raised more than $100,000.

Y’landa Sim­mons, chief op­er­at­ing of­fi­cer for the Boys & Girls Clubs of Met­ro­pol­i­tan Bal­ti­more, said every year the or­ga­ni­za­tion gets anony­mous con­tri­bu­tions from its Ama­zon wish list on Jones’ birth­day. “You can’t re­place Adam,” she said.

The Ori­oles an­nounced Thurs­day that Jones, his wife and the Ori­oles’ char­i­ta­ble foun­da­tion jointly do­nated $150,000 to six lo­cal non­prof­its.

The pol­i­tics of the game might not al­low for a fit­ting farewell for Jones.

The Ori­oles went into this sea­son hop­ing to com­pete for a play­off spot, but en­tered the year with a cloud of un­cer­tainty. Jones was one of four key play­ers el­i­gi­ble for free agency at the end of the 2018 sea­son, while ex­ec­u­tive vice pres­i­dent Dan Du­quette and Showal­ter were in the fi­nal year of their con­tracts. The sea­son also be­gan with an own­er­ship power shift, with ail­ing man­ag­ing part­ner Peter An­ge­los hav­ing ceded day-to-day con­trol of the team to his sons, John and Louis.

It quickly be­came clear the Ori­oles weren’t go­ing to con­tend in 2018, and af­ter Me­mo­rial Day, the Ori­oles shifted their fo­cus to­ward trad­ing their pend­ing free agents. Jones was told in June, ac­cord­ing to a source, that trade op­tions would be pur­sued. But an­other source said the ques­tion of whether Jones would ap­prove a trade to the Phillies wasn’t broached with him un­til the week lead­ing up to the July 31 non­waiver trade dead­line. Jones had the right to veto a deal, and he did, cit­ing his de­sire to avoid up­root­ing his fam­ily.

Over the past month, the sparse home crowds at Cam­den Yards have cheered Jones be­fore each of his at-bats. And to­day that re­cep­tion will likely be the last op­por­tu­nity to say farewell to one of the Ori­oles’ and Bal­ti­more sports scene’s most im­pact­ful play­ers.

The Ori­oles and Jones could agree to ex­tend his ten­ure with the club — the team’s young over­hauled ros­ter could use an es­tab­lished leader — but the re­la­tion­ship ap­pears to be frac­tured.

Lisa Krysiak, a sea­son-ticket holder from Bel Air, had hoped to watch Jones play one last time Thurs­day night un­til rain in­ter­vened. “The whole sea­son has been bru­tal,” Krysiak said. “It’s a stronger feel­ing when it comes to Adam be­cause of how much of a fix­ture he’s been here. He’s been the face of con­sis­tency for so long. I know it’s cycli­cal and it’s a busi­ness and this is what hap­pens, but … this is a low point of my O’s fan­dom.”

KEN­NETH K. LAM/BAL­TI­MORE SUN

Af­ter 11 sea­sons in Bal­ti­more, Adam Jones may play his last game as an Ori­ole to­day.

PATRICK SEMANSKY/AS­SO­CI­ATED PRESS

Since Adam Jones came to Bal­ti­more in 2008, he has been a five-time All-Star and has re­ceived com­mu­nity ser­vice awards.

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