For Baltimore Orioles outfielder Adam Jones, playing in the minor leagues was an eye-opening experience.
Jones grew up in what he called a diversified area of San Diego. But while playing for the Mariners’ Class AA team in San Antonio in 2005, he was the target of racist taunts.
“I heard some fun things traveling around in Arkansas,” Jones said Saturday at the Negro Leagues Baseball Museum. “It wasn’t too pretty. I didn’t understand it at the time. I was just trying to keep my head down and play the game of baseball. I think as I’ve gotten older, those things are completely unacceptable.”
Unfortunately, Jones has continued to run into hateful fans, even in the majors. On May 1, Jones heard racial taunts during a game at Fenway Park.
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“Most of us are aware of that sad incident that occurred at Boston,” NLBM president Bob Kendrick said. “As I was just sharing with Adam, timing is everything. There is never a good time for these incidents to occur and we don’t think in 2017 that they would occur. But it reminds us of the work that we still have to do in this country as it relates to race relations. ...
“But what better place to talk it about than at the Negro Leagues Baseball Museum, where this is a story about race and sports?”
Jones was at the NLBM to make a $20,000 donation to the museum, a pledge he made well before the Orioles visited Fenway Park. Jones also will provide free museum admission to students from Operation Breakthrough, a non-profit organization that offers preschool and child care for kids up to the age of 5 as well as before- and after-school care for children between the ages of 5 and 13.
Children from Operation Breakthrough will be at the museum on July 18 and later attend the Royals’ game against the Detroit Tigers.
Jones talked Saturday about how technological advancements and the rise of social media have led to a “brashness” in people, who are unafraid to share hateful words. He hopes that the incident in Boston will lead to people trying to stamp out racism when they see it around them.
The Negro Leagues Baseball Museum can open eyes to the ugliness of discrimination, Jones said.
“I think coming here, the donation (from) myself with the help of the PA (Players’ Association) is going to help educate all kids, all adults,” Jones said. “I think every time someone walks in here ... how much they just learn or they had no idea what the Negro Leagues was about. They had no idea of what (the players) went through.
“I think the donation that we were able to make, hopefully, other people come together and make it a bigger donation and getting more and more kids and getting more and more adults through this place so they can understand what the Negro Leagues was about. It’s not just about the segregation part, it’s about the education of this great game of baseball. As you’ve seen, once baseball integrated, a lot of African-Americans were very instrumental in the great movement of the game of baseball.”