'You won't see many of them like him in the future': Fans, community brace for likely farewell to Orioles' Adam Jones

'You won't see many of them like him in the future': Fans, community brace for likely farewell to Orioles' Adam Jones

The tributes to Adam Jones will reach a crescendo Sunday as the Orioles’ face of the franchise for more than a decade will play what will likely be his final game in the uniform with which he’s become synonymous.

If the past two nights were any indication, Jones will receive a standing ovation before every at-bat. Fans will make signs. They will chant his name. Some might cry, because saying goodbye is difficult.

“I imagine there’s going to be plenty of crying in baseball on Sunday,” said Heather Linington-Noble, a Canton resident who has a 29-game plan and plans to attend Sunday’s game.

Linington-Noble attended last year’s final game of the season, when longtime fixture J.J. Hardy played his last game with the Orioles. She remembers fans crying throughout the seating bowl for Hardy, but predicted Jones will evoke even more emotion.

“That was emotional enough for everyone,” she said. “And it’s not to disparage [Hardy], but he didn’t have the same significance to the fans and the team and to the fans and the city of Baltimore, so I can only imagine that it will be even more emotional and intense this time around.”

Who knows how Jones will react? He’s treated every round of applause this weekend the way he knows how, by drowning it out and focusing on winning a baseball game.

“I know he doesn’t [express it],” Jones’ wife, Audie Fugett Jones, said. “I don’t know. He always looks so tough on the field. He doesn’t really smile. But we all know that behind the scenes he’s always laughing and smiling. He even says to me, he notices it, obviously. But I know it means a lot to him. How could it not? … It is kind of sad for everyone. Who knows what will happen next year? But it’s weird, coming to a close, being here for 11 years and now just thinking … You know, you never know what could happen. It’s bittersweet, I guess.”

But it is remarkable to hear how revered Jones is with Orioles fans. Jones said Saturday he believed he was appreciated here because he went to work every day trying to do his best.

“I’ve been following this team for really all my life and for me he’s the Oriole which represents what used to be The Oriole Way,” said Bayne Rector, a Cecil County native who now lives in North Garden, Va. “The Orioles used to be a team of excellence and used to do everything well and they were the model for what teams should be. And he fit that mold. He and Cal [Ripken Jr.] were two guys who fit that mold to a tee.”

Baltimore has a rare connection to its sports figures, but Jones’ contributions would be rare in any city and in any era because he not only was the Orioles’ most consistent player on the field for so long, and he invested in the community off it.

Jones, who grew up in San Diego, gave back after becoming a prominent figure in Baltimore.

“I think Adam is a good success story of someone who didn’t come from a lot, but he made a lot and he knows he didn’t do it on his own,” said Matt Death, the vice president of corporate and business partnerships for the Boys & Girls Clubs of Metropolitan Baltimore and previously community outreach coordinator for the Orioles. “He did it with the right support system and with a couple assets now being there in his life, he could be a lot different person right now.

“So what he wants to do is minimize the amount of kids who make the wrong decision or go the wrong way. And I think he knows that he’s one of the few people who can stand up and make a difference just with his status, with his financial well-being. He just wanted to make sure there could be another Adam Jones and not another tragedy.”

Jones, 33, has impacted many lives away from the cheering crowds at Camden Yards. From youth baseball teams in Northeast Baltimore to the four area Boys & Girls Clubs he helped renovate, to the scholarships he’s funded, the educational programs he’s backed, the tickets he’s given, Jones has touched many.

“I get a lot of messages from kids across the country that just admire the way I play the game of baseball and ask me random questions on how to do this and that,” Jones said. “It’s cool to being able to transition from the guy who just wanted to come and make a name for himself to the guy who’s giving advice to the younger generation. So, it’s been a blessing to be able to have that cool transition. Most people aren’t able to have a transition like that.”

Orioles manager Buck Showalter said Jones took his role in the community seriously, and always made time for contributing throughout the grind of a long season, all while maintaining his performance on the field.

“If you don’t have a pure heart about it, you don’t need to be doing it,” Showalter said. “You’d be better off just throwing cash out of a building and see how many people gather at the bottom. Adam wants to do it with a purpose. I’ve seen times when he’s been at the ballpark and I know he’s been somewhere. He’s been at a YMCA or at a function where he had to get up early. … Adam, I never saw it affect his play, the things he committed to do the next day. … There’s a lot of things that he got up and did that weren’t on the front page. But he did them because they’re right.”

At Baltimore’s Gardenville Grays youth baseball league, the kids just know him as Adam. Jones first became involved with the league while doing an Orioles youth clinic several years ago. He served as 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, sometimes announced and other times unannounced. He took them to the movies twice, including a screening of the movie “42” about Jackie Robinson.

“These kids have been around him so much that they weren’t even star-struck by him anymore,” league president Will Brown said. “And to me that’s unbelievable. I’ve been around baseball in this city since 1972. Al Bumbry used to be out in the community [when I was growing up], but Al Bumbry was wasn’t near as accessible as Adam Jones was. Nowhere near.”

None of Baltimore’s Boys & Girls Clubs are in facilities they’ve built. They occupy housing developments, rec centers or community centers, and they were in need of renovation. Jones’ contributions allowed that. In each of the first four years of his six-year contract that ends this year, Jones – who was a member of the Encanto Boys & Girls Club growing up in San Diego — picked one club to fix up.

He donated to build a computer lab at the Brooklyn O’Malley club in Brooklyn, then helped make a computer lab and teen room at the Westport/Winans Homes club where kids can gather and play games. A third computer lab was built at Webster Kendrick/Callaway Elementary School. All three labs — or tech centers — look the same, painted in orange with Jones’ jersey hanging, all three bearing Jones’ name. It is there where kids have the opportunity to learn computer literacy and participate in STEM and coding programs. Jones also made a donation to renovate the gym at the O’Donnell Heights club in Southeast Baltimore, a project that included replacing the backboards and gym floor and putting in wall padding.

“For Adam every year to redo a room, sometimes two rooms, just the feel, the look, the vibe it gives our kids, it’s almost like taking this hidden gem and transforming it and it changes the attitude of our young people, our staff and parents,” said Y’landa Simmons, the chief operating officer for the Boys & Girls Clubs of Metropolitan Baltimore. “For us, it’s been great because all of these rooms stand out and our kids can tell you, ‘Oh, Adam did this room for us.’ … They individualize it as though they’re his best friend.”

Last year, Jones and his wife began funding a scholarship for the Boys & Girls Club’s Youth of the Year award winners. Five finalists, one from each club, are selected, each given a $1,000 college scholarship, and one winner is selected to receive an additional $5,000 for their education. Adam and Audie Jones are among the judges who select the winner after speeches delivered by each finalist at a ceremony in the B&O Warehouse at Camden Yards.

While the monetary contributions are huge, Simmons said Jones’ desire to be around the kids at the clubs makes him stand out.

“It’s not only the fact that he gives presents such as redoing rooms, but also gives presence,” Simmons said. “He’s at our clubs. The kids know him. He makes them feel like he knows them all individually. … The presents and the presence is really what’s important. … I’ve been here 10 years with the organization. I’ve seen a lot of donors and a lot of sponsors, but none of them can really match the dedication and the passion and obviously the dollars that he gives the organization.”

While the six statues that honor the Orioles Hall of Famers recognize individuals who won World Series championships and are enshrined in Cooperstown, Rector said Jones belongs with them one day.

“It’s more of what he’s meant to the city of Baltimore,” Rector said. “I know he does not have Hall of Fame numbers, but there are some things that are just as valuable. The goodwill that he has generated among all Baltimoreans … you won’t see many of them like him in the future.”

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Orioles rewind: Looking back at Saturday's doubleheader against the Astros

Orioles rewind: Looking back at Saturday's doubleheader against the Astros

Orioles notes: Miguel Castro ends season early with knee injury

Right-hander Miguel Castro again served an important role as a multiple-inning reliever for the Orioles this season, but his season ended prematurely with a right knee injury. Castro, who has not pitched since Sept. 22, said Saturday he was done for the season. “Thankfully, the knee feels better,”…

Nixing trade allowed Orioles' Adam Jones to extend community contributions, but now both sides 'hold the cards'

Nixing trade allowed Orioles' Adam Jones to extend community contributions, but now both sides 'hold the cards'

In the middle of a final Orioles series that’s become Adam Jones appreciation weekend, the veteran outfielder said Saturday that he still has plenty of good baseball ahead of him. It seems unlikely that will be played in an Orioles uniform, but that remains to be seen.

Before Saturday’s doubleheader against the Houston Astros, Jones sat in the Orioles dugout and spoke about his community service, the past two months since vetoing a trade to the Philadelphia Phillies and what his future holds beyond this weekend.

As he held court with a media scrum, contemplating whether he’s had any regrets about his time in Baltimore — he quickly said he wished he found an efficient detour to avoid downtown traffic on Lombard Street — Jones, 33, saw first base coach Wayne Kirby and zeroed in on him.

“I’ve done everything I can do. I’ve still got a lot in the tank and you know it,” he said, directing his words at Kirby. “There’s a lot let in the tank. The oil got changed. There’s a lot left in the tank.”

On Saturday — a day that offered Orioles fans twice the opportunity to stand for every one of Jones at-bats — it was about recognizing his community service. The Orioles, Jones and his wife, Audie, contributed $150,000 to several local nonprofit organizations. The donation is the most recent among hundreds of thousands of dollars Jones has contributed to the community over his 11 years in Baltimore.

“My production between these lines has helped fuel everything off the field,” Jones said. “If I wasn’t that good a player, ain’t nobody coming out to [the events]. … This city has just supported me through everything and everything I’ve done between these lines, they’ve appreciated throughout the years. And at the end of the day, what I do between these lines dictates what happens away from it. It’s been a blessing to be a productive player to where I can venture myself out and loan myself out and loan my likenesses out to the city.

“This is where I was at. If I was in another city, if I stayed in Seattle, [I’d be doing the same]. They got me understanding what the community means to the franchise. The Mariners did a great job and they still do a great job of involving themselves in the community. And what I learned during my short time there was to involve yourself in the community that supports your franchise. It was easy to do. It was because I was here and this is where my mark was. If I was in any other city and I hopefully had the same success, I would have done the same thing.”

Jones said he blocked the Orioles’ potential trade to the Phillies because he believed playing a less significant role — albeit with a playoff contender — would hurt his free-agent stock this offseason. It’s a decision he doesn’t regret.

“Not a bit,” Jones said. “Why would I? If anyone can give me one reason why. There’s no reason why.”

Jones said remaining in Baltimore allowed him to remain a contributor to the community until the end of the season. He said his wife has been working since August to make the donations presented Saturday.

“We wanted to stay around because we did have so many charitable interests that we wanted to see through and make sure that they were followed through,” Audie Fugett Jones said. “We are happy that today we’re going to be able to show all the hard work and time we have spent with these organizations and we’re going to see finally the money is going to be dispersed. We’re just really, really happy.”

Said Jones: “The charitable stuff, I know it’s being announced now. This stuff has been in the works for months. My wife has had all of this stuff orchestrated for months. I think now it’s the perfect time to put it out, it’s good for the last weekend. I get all that stuff. But we’ve had all this stuff done for a while because we really wanted to get it moving and get it going. But when you don’t control the funds and have to wait for the funds to come … and that’s what we did and I guess we have our allowance for our programs. I’m glad that the groups now are getting the money and getting the opportunity to further the programs that we’ve talked about, so hopefully some players if I’m not here can pick up the slack for some of these programs because they are great programs. It’s Baltimore helping Baltimore and Baltimore investing in Baltimore.”

Jones, who was able to block a trade because of 10-and-5 rights — 10 years of major league service time and five seasons with the same club — said both sides “hold the cards” on deciding whether he returns to Baltimore or this is really goodbye.

Asked what his possible departure will mean for the programs he’s helped, Jones said, “It’s hard to do something when you’re not present. It’s something I have to wait and see how my future [turns] out.”

He said he hoped if he’s no longer with the team that a new player would emerge, but that on-field success must come first, as it did with him.

If it is indeed the end for Jones, he said it was rewarding to extend his time in Baltimore these past two months, saying he’s received so much appreciation for what he’s given the Orioles and the city on and off the field. He will have at least one more event this offseason, his sixth annual benefit tailgate event before a Ravens game in November, an event that raised $101,000 last season.

“I get a lot of different messages from a lot of different kids, a lot of fans, especially over the last month, two months, especially since I said no to the trade, just appreciations of [what I do],” Jones said. “It comes full circle. People appreciate me showing up to work every day, and in a city like Baltimore, a place [where] fans don’t like excuses, fans just want to you to show up to work and shut the hell up and play the game hard. That’s what I’ve done.

“Not shut the hell up,” Jones said, correcting himself. “But play the game hard.”

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After 11 years with Orioles, Jones faces uncertain future

After 11 years with Orioles, Jones faces uncertain future

Baltimore Orioles’ Adam Jones (10) is hit by a pitch in front of Boston Red Sox’s Christian Vazquez during the first inning of the second game of a baseball doubleheader in Boston, Wednesday, Sept. 26, 2018. (AP Photo/Michael Dwyer)

BALTIMORE (AP) — Adam Jones has done a wonderful job on and off the field during his 11 years with the Baltimore Orioles.

The five-time All-Star ranks high on many of the team’s career batting lists and has become an integral part of the community.

But his future with the organization remains in doubt, so this weekend has served as a tentative Camden Yards farewell to a fan favorite.

With the Orioles in rebuild mode and Jones two months removed from celebrating his 33rd birthday, the team has to decide if it wants to bring him back when his contract expires after this season.

”Who holds the cards? Now, we kind of both do,” Jones said Saturday. ”But I’m not the one making business decisions on their regard. All I can do is make a business decision on my behalf.”

Seems as if he would love to be back.

Jones has made a family in Baltimore, built a heck of a career and been part of countless charitable causes. He spurned a chance in July to join the contending Philadelphia Phillies as a corner outfielder, evoking his no-trade clause to stay with a team that will finish with the worst record in the majors.

”I nixed the no-trade because it was not a good move for Adam Jones going forward,” said Jones, Baltimore’s center fielder from 2008 to late this season, when he moved to right to make room for prospect Cedric Mullins. ”It wasn’t the best move for Adam going into free agency, to platoon in a position I was not playing.”

Jones is on the Orioles’ top-10 lists for games, hits, RBIs, runs, homers and total bases.

”There are some great players on that list,” he said. ”It’s great to be in that conversation, but there’s still a lot to be done to rise on that list.”

Jones received a standing ovation before every at-bat in Friday night’s game against Houston, and the practice is expected to continue through the season finale Sunday.

His gritty style would be missed, as would his charitable work. The Baltimore Orioles Charitable Foundation, Jones and his wife, Audie, this week jointly donated $150,000 to a variety of nonprofit organizations.

”It’s not like you have to do it,” Jones said. ”Athletes don’t have to anything but show up to work.”

Jones shows up for work, even after spending an afternoon dedicating a Little League ballpark or visiting kids at a summer camp.

”It’s just something he wants to do,” Orioles manager Buck Showalter said. ”You do it because it’s right. Adam wants to do it with a purpose.”

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Orioles $161 million man finishes with worst batting average in MLB history

Orioles $161 million man finishes with worst batting average in MLB history

The Baltimore Orioles have seen enough from Chris Davis this season. The once feared hitter, whom Baltimore committed a whooping $161 million to prior to the 2016 season, will not play in any of the team’s final three games.

The decision is not injury related, according to reports from Baltimore. There’s simply no point in watching Davis struggle any more than they already have.

Davis, 32, will finish the season in a 1-for-37 slump. Worse yet, he will finish the season with the worst qualified batting average in Major League Baseball history.

To be considered a qualified hitter, a batter must reach 502 plate appearances in a given season. That averages out to 3.1 plate appearance per team game. Davis is at 522. 

There’s no way around it. It’s the literal worst season we’ve ever seen from a big league hitter, and it comes just three years into Davis’ massive seven-year contract.

Past success

The 11-year veteran has always been an all-or-nothing hitter at the plate. He’s struck out at least 169 times each season dating back to 2012. His 1,696 career strikeouts are far more than this 1,099 career hits.

Davis has typically made up for the lack of contact with pure power. During that same time he’s hit 239 home runs, including a league-leading 53 in 2013 and 47 in 2015. It’s that power that prompted Baltimore to pay up once Davis hit free agency following the 2015 season.

What’s gone wrong?

The power hasn’t completely disappeared this season. Davis has 16 homers in 522 plate appearances, which is a number many players would take. Unfortunately, Davis has contributed next to nothing elsewhere, leading to a miserable .168/.243/.296 batting line. 

The next lowest qualified batting average in MLB history is .179, posted by Rob Deer in 1991 and Dan Uggla in 2013. With Davis needing a miraculous finish to even approach that number, the rebuilding Orioles have decided to get some young players at-bats in the final series.

Chris Davis’ .168 batting average is the worst ever in MLB history among qualified hitters. (Getty Images)

What’s next for Chris Davis?

The Orioles obviously won’t be able to trade Davis like they have with several other veteran stars this season. They’ll have to hope the offseason will lead to adjustments and improvements next season. Otherwise, they’ll be facing a decision on whether to eat the large contract or use Davis in a reduced role. Neither would be ideal, and perhaps the Orioles already know their plan.

Chris Davis Day

Regardless, the Orioles will be paying Davis for a long time. As part of his contract, the Orioles will be paying him a yearly lump of $2.8 million every year from 2023 through 2037.

It’s the Orioles version of Bobby Bonilla Day. Since Bonilla agreed to a deferred money deal in 1999, the New York Mets have been cutting him a check for $1.19 million every July 1. That will continue through 2035.

Bobby Bonilla Day came first, so that will likely always earn top billing. But Chris Davis Day could sting the Orioles twice as much, barring a remarkable career turnaround.

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Cole tunes up for playoffs, helps Astros beat Orioles 2-1

Cole tunes up for playoffs, helps Astros beat Orioles 2-1

View photos

Baltimore Orioles third baseman Jace Peterson tags out Houston Astros’ Martin Maldonado as Maldonado tries to advance on Jose Altuve’s fly-out in the third inning of a baseball game, Friday, Sept. 28, 2018, in Baltimore. (AP Photo/Patrick Semansky)

BALTIMORE (AP) — Gerrit Cole tuned up for the postseason by pitching six sharp innings for the Houston Astros, who got a home run from Josh Reddick in a 2-1 victory over the Baltimore Orioles on Friday night.

The Astros close out the regular season at Camden Yards this weekend after clinching the AL West title on Tuesday night. Houston opens the playoffs at home against Cleveland on Oct. 5.

Cole gave up one run, five hits and a walk. His four strikeouts gave him 276 for the season, and he reached 200 innings for the third time in his career.

Although Cole wasn’t involved in the decision, the right-hander will enter the playoffs with a 15-5 record, a 2.88 ERA and a five-game winning streak.

Cole and the Astros trailed 1-0 in the sixth before Reddick tied it with his 17th home run, a drive off rookie David Hess that sailed over the right-field scoreboard.

Marwin Gonzalez put Houston in front with a bases-loaded single in the eighth off Tanner Scott (3-3).

Tony Sipp (3-1) and Collin McHugh each pitched one inning before Roberto Osuna worked the ninth for his 21st save. He’s 12 for 12 since coming to the Astros from Toronto in late July.

The game ended with center fielder Jake Marisnick making a diving catch of a sinking liner by Renato Nunez with the potential tying run on second base.

PICK ME!

Astros manager A.J. Hinch intends to talk to players about their status for the postseason on Sunday. With such a glut of talent on the roster, it’s likely that a handful of players will see their seasons unexpectedly come to an end.

”They’re all avoiding me,” Hinch said. ”This is the deepest team that most of these guys have played on, so they’re realists. They understand that this is a hard team to crack.”

He plans to reveal his starting post-season rotation by the end of the weekend.

MR. JONES

Adam Jones was selected the Most Valuable Oriole in a poll of writers and broadcasters who cover the team.

Jones is 33, his contract expires after this season and the Orioles are rebuilding with youth. So, these could be his last days in Baltimore.

Many in the crowd gave him a standing ovation during each of his four trips to the plate.

He responded with an RBI double in the first inning and hit a drive to the warning track in the ninth.

The fans are unsure if Jones will be back, and so are his teammates. ”To think it could be the end is sad,” catcher Caleb Joseph said.

DAVIS DONE

Orioles first baseman Chris Davis has apparently put an end to one of the worst seasons in major league history.

Baltimore manager Buck Showalter said Friday that Davis – mired in a 1-for-37 skid – probably won’t play again in 2018.

Davis will finish with a .168 batting average, lowest by a qualifier in big league history. The previous record was .179, by Rob Deer in 1991 and Dan Uggla in 2013.

UP NEXT

Astros: Justin Verlander (16-9, 2.60 ERA) and Dallas Keuchel (12-11, 3.75 ERA) warm up for the playoffs in Saturday’s single-admission doubleheader.

Orioles” Dylan Bundy (8-16. 5.49 ERA) puts an end to a disappointing season, and rookie Yefry Ramirez (1-7, 6.07 ERA) seeks his first win since July 24.

More AP baseball coverage: https://apnews.com/tag/MLB and https://twitter.com/AP-Sports