Adam Jones’ on-field mark in Baltimore got here in heart area at Camden Yards. But it’s in the wrong way from dwelling plate that Jones has twice cemented town as his “second home.”
Inside the ballpark’s auxiliary clubhouse — the identical room he signed a then-franchise-record contract extension in 2012 — Jones formally retired with the Orioles on Friday, as he and govt vice chairman and basic supervisor Mike Elias every signed 4 pages of a one-day contract.
Jones, 38, spent 11 of his 14 main league seasons with Baltimore earlier than ending his taking part in profession with two seasons in Japan. He ranks among the many franchise leaders in a number of classes, hitting extra dwelling runs at Camden Yards than another batter and serving as a group chief through the Orioles’ most profitable run of the previous quarter century.
“Baltimore has a special part in my heart,” Jones mentioned. “I nonetheless persistently watched Orioles video games in all places I used to be at, even in Japan. It’s simply one thing that’s ingrained to me.
“It is my second home. I wanted to show my kids this, also. The last thing they really saw me is being a ramen-eating Japanese player, and now, they get to see this and see how their lives have been shaped based on rocking the black and orange. I’m forever grateful.”
Jones’ retirement and the accompanying ceremony got here earlier than the Orioles confronted the Tampa Bay Rays in a significant American League East matchup in entrance of a sold-out crowd, lots of whom got here to have fun Jones. But the timing was additionally important to him: Friday marked the two-year anniversary of the dying of Jones’ mom, Andrea Bradley. He had a number of relations in attendance for the festivities, together with his spouse, Audie, and sons, August and Axel.
A product of San Diego, Jones was drafted within the first spherical by the Seattle Mariners in 2003, then was among the many gamers dealt to Baltimore in 2008 for beginning pitcher Erik Bedard. The subsequent yr, he made his first of 5 All-Star groups and gained his first of 4 Gold Gloves, all with Baltimore. He obtained Most Valuable Player votes annually from 2012 to 2014, the primary three years in a five-season run wherein the Orioles had been the AL’s winningest group.
Asked Friday whether or not this yr’s Orioles — unexpectedly atop the AL East — remind him of the 2012 group that ended Baltimore’s 15-year run of shedding seasons, Jones begrudgingly mentioned he as an alternative compares them with the 2014 Kansas City Royals, which used an method based mostly on contact and athleticism to brush Baltimore within the AL Championship Series.
“It burns my damn soul to say that,” Jones mentioned.
But he has savored how this Orioles group has blossomed out of the one he left behind. The extension Jones signed in 2012 got here to an finish after the 2018 marketing campaign, when the membership’s run of success bottomed out. As different established Orioles had been traded away throughout that season, Jones exercised his 10-and-5 rights to void a deal that may have despatched him to Philadelphia. He signed with the Arizona Diamondbacks that offseason, ending his decade in Baltimore.
“Business is business,” Jones mentioned. “I do know I mentioned it again then, however it’s actually true, and I’m not the primary particular person to exit a franchise not the way in which that I assume everyone anticipated to.
“Not everything is gonna be beautiful. But I was able to play 11 years. Well, what can I gripe about? You know what I mean? I got no gripes about it.”
In the years since, Jones’ No. 10 jersey has remained a well-liked garment with followers. He and his sons every donned one as they ran in from heart area for Friday’s pregame ceremony, with Jones jokingly stopping shy of second base to catch his breath.
Some of Jones’ former Baltimore teammates, together with Chris Davis, Nick Markakis and Darren O’Day, attended the ceremony in particular person. Before Markakis caught a ceremonial first pitch from Jones in a reunion of the pairing often called “2110 Eutaw Street” for his or her work within the Camden Yards outfield, a video tribute performed, that includes remarks and congratulations from former Orioles corresponding to J.J. Hardy, Matt Wieters and Trey Mancini and present gamers who started their careers with Jones as a mentor in outfielders Cedric Mullins and Austin Hays.
“People still respect what I’ve done,” Jones mentioned. “When I first got here, the mission was to play as many games as I could, as hard as I could, as long as I could. I was able to fulfill that. I think people respect that.”
Elias and supervisor Brandon Hyde mentioned as a lot. Each was employed after Jones turned a free agent, however each heaped praised Friday.
“It was very evident to me the importance of his tenure with the franchise, the impact he left on this city and a lot of the players in this locker room,” Elias mentioned. “He wasn’t drafted by this organization, he didn’t start his major league career here, he didn’t finish his major league career here, technically. So he’s choosing this place as his home. This place meant a lot to him. He’s kind of an adopted son in a lot of ways for the city, and it shows the way that people who aren’t from here can be drawn in.”
Added Hyde: “I think it’s a huge deal, honestly, to recognize players that have been impactful to this organization in the past. I think it’s awesome for Adam, awesome for the Orioles.”
Jones stays concerned in baseball via his position with the MLB Commissioner’s Office, in addition to The Players Alliance, which helps scale back obstacles for younger Black athletes to get entangled within the recreation. He seems ahead to persevering with to have an effect in Baltimore, the place he was a three-time Roberto Clemente Award nominee for his work with native chapter of the Boys and Girls Club, YMCA and Reviving Baseball in Inner Cities Program.
“I’m just glad that it all worked out,” Jones mentioned. “My final time putting on a jersey will be here. I’m just forever grateful for what Baltimore has taught me. I’ll be forever grateful, and I’m glad that I’ll always be welcomed in this city. The people here really appreciated the way I carried myself, played the game and gave back.”