BALTIMORE — For the last decade, outfielder Adam Jones has been the face of the Baltimore Orioles. Manny Machado may have been considered the face of the O’s for part of that span, but the majority of that belongs goes to Jones. Along with accumulating a .278 average, 1,799 hits, and 265 home runs over his Major League career, Jones led the Orioles on and off the field.
No matter what the Orioles’ record was or how badly he hurt from minor injuries, Jones always gave 110% on the field and he’s still doing so at age 33. In Baltimore city, Jones has dedicated many hours to the community. He’s helped kids either get an education or continue it, made donations to help renovate the Boys and Girls Club facilities, and acted as a sponsor for Reviving Baseball in Inner Cities (RBI).
Literally everything has gone wrong for the Orioles in 2018. The club entered the season with playoff aspirations, but has fallen to a 44-108 record through Sept. 20. On the 18th when the O’s fell to Toronto 6-4, the club set a franchise record for losses with 108. The 1988 Orioles previously held the record for most losses in a season when they finished 54-107.
Over the last few months, several key players were traded at the July 31 deadline, and the futures of both manager Buck Showalter and general manager Dan Duquette remain a mystery for the club’s ownership to sort out over the offseason.
Another contract set to expire after the 2018 season wraps up is that of Jones. The Orioles attempted to trade Jones in July, but the longest-tenured Oriole vetoed the trade and elected to finish out the season in Baltimore. He’s since been moved to right field with Cedric Mullins taking over in center, and recently his playing time has diminished. Needless to say, the relationship between Jones and the Orioles has taken a hit in recent time.
It’s hard to imagine Jones re-signing with the O’s in the offseason. The Orioles want to rebuild and they want to feature several young players in the process. For Jones, retirement is much sooner than later. If he wants to win a ring before he hangs up the cleats, he won’t be doing it in Baltimore.
With Jones’ time in Baltimore likely wrapping up, let’s turn back the clock and reflect on 10 of his greatest moments in an Orioles uniform.
1. April 15, 2008: First home run as an Oriole
Appropriately on Major League Baseball’s Jackie Robinson Day in 2008, Jones, who proudly represents baseball’s African American Community, hit his first Orioles home run against Shaun Marcum of the Blue Jays. The solo shot cut a Toronto lead to 6-2 in the fifth inning. Toronto would go on to win the contest 11-3 before a crowd of 15,017 at Camden Yards.
Jones, the 37th overall pick of the 2008 MLB Amateur Draft by the Mariners, played 73 games for Seattle before being traded to Baltimore for a package that included pitchers Chris Tillman, George Sherrill, and Erik Bedard. Needless to say, the Orioles won that trade.
2. April 14, 2009: Go-ahead homer in the 10th inning aids Orioles to 7-5 win over Rangers
The beginning of Jones’ time with the Orioles did not come with a lot of wins. Jones arrived in Baltimore during a 14-year stretch of consecutive losing seasons for the Orioles. Although times were tough on the field, Jones’ demeanor and attitude never wavered. That’s one of the many reasons why Jones is so beloved in Charm City.
On an April night in Texas, the Orioles and the Rangers found themselves knotted up at three after nine innings. Baltimore did not waste any time in extras, scoring four in the top of the 10th. Brian Roberts got the rally going with a one-out single before Jones smacked a two-run home run to left-center field. The O’s added two insurance runs on a two-run double by Luke Scott that scored both Nick Markakis and Ty Wigginton.
Texas added two runs in their half of the inning off Sherrill, but the game ended with Jones catching a fly ball by Nelson Cruz, who ended up playing for the O’s in 2014.
Jones was elected to his first of five All Star Game appearances in 2009 before making the trip four years straight from 2012-2015.
3. May 22, 2010: Inside-the-park home run in D.C.
Inside-the-park home runs are extremely rare and hard to pull off, but thanks to a temper tantrum by then-Nationals outfielder Nyjer Morgan, Jones pulled off this feat in 2010. Judging from the video, Morgan should have easily caught the ball, but it appeared to bounce off his glove. Morgan proceeded to slam his glove to the ground in frustration, which only gave Jones more time to round the bases. Left fielder Josh Willingham had to pick up Morgan’s slack and hustled over to get the ball in, but his attempt did not beat Jones at the plate as the O’s went up 4-2.
Washington went on to win the game 7-6.
4. June 1, 2011: Over-the-shoulder catch versus former team
It’s no secret that the Orioles won the Jones trade with the Mariners, but it’s satisfying to see Jones rub it in a little. During a June 1 tangle with the Mariners in 2011, Seattle catcher Miguel Olivo came just shy of hitting a lead-off home run and giving the Mariners a 2-1 lead. Jones had other plans. As the ball reached the warning track, Jones didn’t bat an eye at the outfield wall while making an over-the-shoulder grab to record the first out of the inning. Then in Baltimore’s half of the eighth inning, Jones hit a solo home run off Jamey Wright, leading the Orioles to a 2-1 win.
5. June 9, 2012: 12th inning walk-off home run versus Phillies
For Orioles fans, 2012 was a year to remember. The Birds ended their streak of 14 straight losing seasons and clinched a playoff spot in the first year of MLB’s new playoff format that featured a second Wild Card team. The Orioles played three games against Philadelphia in 2012, with two of them stretching into extra innings. After losing the opening game in the series, Jones won game two with a two-run homer in the 12th inning off B.J. Rosenberg, also scoring Chris Davis. The heroics of Jones started a five-game winning streak for the Orioles, who played one game below .500 in the months of June and July before finishing the season 38-20, 96-69 overall.
Jones played in all 162 games for the Orioles in 2012, the one time he’s had perfect baseball attendance.
6. July 9, 2013: Revenge in the Bronx
After the Yankees knocked the Orioles out of the 2012 playoffs by taking the American League Divisional Series 3-2, the Orioles got their fair share of revenge in 2013. During a July afternoon contest in the Bronx, the Yankees held a 1-0 lead going into the ninth inning.
Legendary Yankees closer Mariano Rivera, in his final season, went out to the mound to do what he accomplished so many times in his career: put the Orioles away. After Rivera recorded the first out via a Machado ground-out, Markakis singled, and then Jones delivered the kill-shot to left-center field next to the home bullpen. With the O’s now up 2-1, Jim Johnson got loose and did what Rivera couldn’t do on that Sunday, register a 1-2-3 inning for the save.
Jones finished the 2013 season with a career-high 33 home runs. He hit .285 with 186 hits, which tied his career high hit total set during the 2012 season.
7. October 11, 2014: Jonsey gets his first in the postseason
2014 saw the Orioles return to the playoffs for the second time in three seasons, and this time Baltimore won the American League East for the first time in 17 years. The O’s ended the regular season 96-66 overall, 12 games ahead of the Yankees.
After sweeping the Detroit Tigers in the ALDS 3-0, the #1-seeded Orioles were swept by the Kansas City Royals in the American League Championship Series. In game two of the ALCS at Camden Yards, the Orioles trailed the Royals 3-1 in the third inning. Facing Yordano Ventura, who tragically passed away in January 2017 in the Dominican Republic, Jones tied the game up at 3 with a two-run blast to the left field bleachers. It was the only home run that Jones ever hit in the postseason.
The Orioles only held the lead once in the entire series. After Jones’ game-tying home run, Mike Moustakas gave the Royals the lead back in the fourth inning with a solo home run off Bud Norris. The Orioles tied the game again in the fifth inning on a Nelson Cruz ground-out, but two ninth-inning runs lifted the Royals over the O’s 6-4.
In 14 career playoff games, Jones struggled at the plate, hitting .155 in 58 at-bats with just nine hits, four RBI, and three walks.
8. August 4, 2015: All-Star defense
The Orioles lost a big asset on defense following the 2014 season when Markakis signed a four-year, $44 million contract with the Atlanta Braves. The real disappointing part of the story is that the team did not do a good job of filling the void left by Markakis, trotting the likes of Delmon Young, Travis Snider and Gerardo Parra out to right field. In addition to manning his post in center-field, Jones had to hustle to balls in the right-center gap because chances were the right fielder wasn’t getting to it before him. Against the A’s in an early August contest, Jones robbed Coco Crisp with a diving catch.
Jones celebrated his 30th birthday three days before this catch. Although his speed has decreased in recent seasons, Jones makes up for it with his relentless hustle. The fact that Jones played centerfield until late in the current 2018 season is a true testament to how hard he plays.
The A’s would shutout the Orioles in this game 5-0.
9. July 28, 2016: Twin City magic
With the exceptions of Camden Yards and the stadiums of AL East opponents, Target Field, home of the Minnesota Twins, is the ballpark that Jones has homered the most at. Jones has hit nine home runs at Target Field, which is really impressive considering the ballpark opened in 2010, three years into Jones’ Orioles career.
Normally Jones bats in spots 2-4 in the Orioles’ lineup, but in 2016 Showalter used Jones as the lead-off hitter for much of the season. Machado did the same in 2015, largely in-part to the Orioles not carrying a traditional lead-off hitter on their roster. In the very first at-bat of a late July make-up game against Minnesota, Jones started the contest by belting a solo home run off Kyle Gibson. J.J. Hardy scored Jonathan Schoop in the fourth inning on an RBI single, but the Orioles ended up losing the game 6-2.
#10: May 22, 2017: Becoming the Orioles’ all-time home run leader at Camden Yards
2017 became a historic season for Jones as he broke multiple Orioles records. On May 22, Jones passed Cal Ripken Jr. as the all-time home run leader at Camden Yards when he hit his 125th home run at OPACY off Gibson of the Twins. The three-run bomb that brought both Hardy and Seth Smith home extended an Orioles lead to 5-0, but unfortunately in the fifth inning Ubaldo Jimenez and Tyler Wilson imploded. The Twins scored 10 runs in two innings and would go on to win the game 14-7, shattering the good vibe felt by Jones’ historic moment.
Later in the season on August 28 at Camden Yards, Jones hit his 250th career home run off Christian Bergman in a 7-6 win over the Mariners. This broke another record previously held by Ripken. For Jones, home run #250 was his 25th of the 2017 season and marked the seventh consecutive season in which he hit at least 25 home runs. Ripken hit 25 home runs in six straight seasons from 1982-87.
Honorable mention: March 29, 2018: Opening Day extra inning walk-off
The 2018 season has been an absolute disaster for the Orioles, but you couldn’t tell based on how Opening Day went. For the second year in a row, the Orioles needed extra innings to lock up their first win, and for the third year in a row the Birds won in walk-off fashion on Opening Day. After Mark Trumbo‘s 11th-inning home run gave Baltimore their first win of 2017, Jones went yard off Fernando Rodney to open up 2018 on a positive note. Despite winning their first game of the season, the Orioles lost five straight games afterwards. And, well, you know the rest.
Who could forget the pies?
It would be disrespectful to Mr. Jones if I wrote this entire article without mentioning his postgame antics that Baltimore came to love during his time in an Orioles uniform.
Whenever a player had a big impact on the game – walk-off hit or home run, dominating pitching performance, etc. – that said player would do an interview on MASN after the game ended. And if they were lucky enough, Jones would surprise them with a celebratory pie to the face. At first, the pies were just a plate of whipped cream. But eventually, they turned into actual pies as Dangerously Delicious Pies wanted to sponsor the now-famous celebration.
Before the 2016 season the Orioles banned the pie celebration, citing player safety as their reasoning. But after a few months the pies returned and nothing was said about it. The celebration hasn’t been seen much on TV lately because the Orioles aren’t winning very often. But if Jones leaves in the offseason, one of the many things Baltimore (and a lot of his teammates) will remember him by is the off-chance of a postgame pie celebration after a big Orioles win.
Featured Image Credit: Camden Chat