The best team in the American League signed a franchise legend one last time.
On September 15, Adam Jones signed a ceremonial contract with the Baltimore Orioles and officially retired as a Major League Baseball player. Jones was honored at a ceremony at Camden Yards in Baltimore last Friday before the Orioles took on the Tampa Bay Rays to commemorate the 11 seasons that he wore the O’s across his chest.
Jones ranks among the top 10 in Orioles history in games played (1,613), hits (1,781), homers (263), doubles (305), RBIs (866) and runs scored (875). During his tenure from 2008-2018 playing his home games at Camden Yards, Jones had a .279/.319/.459 slashline and didn’t miss a single game during the 2012 season.
The 5x All-Star, 4x Gold Glove winner and 2013 Silver Slugger award winner played 14 seasons overall. He produced a .277 batting average, 282 home runs, 945 RBI, and 1,939 hits. Jones had many memorable moments as the party starter for the Orioles’ offense, but his proudest moment happened as a member of Team USA in the 2017 World Baseball Classic.
It was another watershed moment as Black players led the way for USA Baseball’s first championship. Behind the superior pitching of Marcus Stroman, the clutch hitting of Andrew McCutchen and “The Catch” by Jones that will forever live in baseball lore—Team USA defeated the Dominican Republic in the semis and Puerto Rico in the finals for sweet victory.
The 38-year-old Jones was selected with the 37th pick in the 2003 MLB draft by the Seattle Mariners. Originally drafted as a shortstop and a pitcher out of Samuel F.B. Morse High School in San Diego, California, he made the transition to the outfield when the Mariners acquired Yuniesky Betancourt, and made his MLB debut with the team on July 14, 2006.
Jones spent a season and a half in the Pacific Northwest, and then was traded along with four other pitchers to Baltimore in exchange for left-handed pitcher Érik Bédard. He didn’t see his first postseason action until 2012, when they beat the Texas Rangers in the Wild Card game, eventually losing to the New York Yankees in the fifth and final game of the divisional series.
The furthest Jones ever made it in his quest for the World Series was the ALCS in 2014 when they were the second seed in the AL, taking out the Tigers in the divisional series, and eventually being swept in the ALCS by the Kansas City Royals.
After his final season with the Orioles, Jones signed a one-year contract worth $3 million with the Arizona Diamondbacks, where he had a .260/.313/.414 slashline. He then played two seasons in the Japanese baseball league with the Orix Buffaloes, with his last baseball game being played in 2021.
Besides his terrific career on the field, Jones was a very active voice off the field. He’s been a huge voice in speaking out against systemic and overt racism in the game, as he had multiple occasions where fans yelled racist remarks and threw objects at him. He understood during his time that there weren’t too many Black players and that Black fans were underrepresented. Jones conducted himself with class and dignity, providing a serious, gritty, and professional element to the locker room. The dynamic elements of his all-around game did most of the talking for him.