About 14 hours after his Orioles had beaten the New York Yankees at Oriole Park at Camden Yards June 12, center fielder Adam Jones went on a different baseball field and dealt with a different type of crowd.
Jones stood on the infield at the James Mosher Elementary School in Baltimore the morning of June 13, surrounded by a huge group of young baseball players who were calling his name, trying to talk to him and make him laugh. The kids were smiling. And, despite the high heat and humidity, so were most of the parents.
The Major League Baseball Players Association, after the civil unrest that tore apart some of Baltimore following the death of Freddie Gray in police custody, wanted to help bring some smiles back to the city and those children who play baseball. Often an idea like this is easier said than done, but a group of people made it all happen in a short amount of time.
That's why Jones, teammate Delmon Young and first base coach Wayne Kirby showed up at the West Baltimore school and connected with the James Mosher Baseball program, which, according to the league's website, was founded in 1960 and is believed to be the oldest continuously operating African-American youth baseball league in the country.
Hall of Famer Frank Robinson was also there, along with other former Orioles Jeffrey Hammonds and Eric Davis. MLBPA executive director Tony Clark was also in attendance, along with some local politicians, like Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake.
Jones said that, after the problems in the city this spring, those in baseball wanted to do something to help the kids in a positive way.
"It meant a lot to the African-Americans in strong positions right now in baseball," Jones said. "We have an impact, and we can make impacts, so I think that what we're going to do to use our abilities and try and impact where we can."
Jones also talked about the importance of helping out in the community ballplayers play in and how much it can affect that area.
"You don't have to give back, but if you're in a position to, and you're widely looked up on, it makes sense to give back to your community," Jones said. "In baseball, the African-American numbers are going down, so we're trying to give back where we can, especially in our communities."
Davis added that it's great if players are able to help and give back by writing checks, and that's certainly a positive all by itself.
But he said if a player a child easily recognizes comes to their field, spends time with them and emphasizes the importance of continuing to keep pushing in baseball, that's something that could easily have a long-term affect.
"By us being here, [it] allowed the kids to believe and to dream, and to say, 'I can be this guy,'" Davis said. "It's fine to donate money, but to donate money without a face or a handshake, it is just a donation. But when you shake a kid's hand, that's a feeling for life."
Mike Singletary helps run the Mosher program and strongly echoed the thoughts of Jones and Davis.
"I think these kids, they get it today," Singletary said. "I think they understand what Adam and Frank, and everybody here today, said in that baseball is not dead in not only just the heart of West Baltimore, but just in Baltimore, in general."
Kenny Abrams worked with the MLBPA to make this event come to life. He worked for the Baltimore Ravens for many years, but he understands sports, the Mosher program and that area in Baltimore after spending much of his childhood there.
He was thrilled the MLBPA came out June 13 and donated balls, bats, gloves and all kinds of equipment. The MLBPA is also going to come back and try to make improvements in areas like the bleachers and dugouts.
Abrams said those putting this event together wanted to both recognize and acknowledge these kids and look at some of their needs while trying to figure out a way to help them.
"There's room for improvement always," Abrams said. "Now that the [MLBPA] sees it for themselves and sees exactly the impact that they could have on this community, they're going to want to do more. It's not just a one-and-done situation. It's a long-term situation."
Robinson echoed that thought, saying how important it is to come back and help these kids.
"It's an impact we can make as long as we follow through on it and don't just drop it in one day, but follow through on it [and] come back again be involved with the kids," Robinson said.