The Bloomington, Ill., native was influenced in childhood by his father, Jimmie, a high school and college (Big Ten Conference, Missouri Valley Conference) baseball umpire.
But before following in his father's footsteps, son Cris turned his high school basketball talent into a college scholarship at Quincy (Ill.) College. The point guard quarterbacked the Hawks to the NAIA Basketball Tournament in 1980 before earning a bachelor's degree in business management in 1983.
After attending umpire school in 1986, Jones began his trek through the minor leagues, working the rookie-level Gulf Coast League (1986), full-season Single-A Midwest League (1987-88), Double-A Texas League (1988-90) and Triple-A American Association (1990-96). During his Triple-A umpiring days, he also worked the Fall League's inaugural season of 1992 and returned in 1994.
In 1997, his career took an unexpected turn when he was hired by Minor League Baseball as an umpire supervisor, which Jones saw as an opportunity for a longer career in baseball. He held the position from 1997-2005.
In 2005, Jones was hired by Major League Baseball in the same role. He has served as MLB's Triple-A umpire coordinator and a Fall League supervisor the past 12 years, In 2007, he added scholarship coordinator for the MLB Umpire Camps to his duties. His Fall League involvement includes game evaluation (judgment, instincts, reactions, game control and people skills), scheduling, and training sessions (balls and strikes, positioning, and rules and review).
Hemond, a veteran baseball executive, is a three-time winner of MLB's Executive-of-the-Year Award and the 2011 recipient of the second Buck O'Neil Lifetime Achievement Award.
The Arizona Fall League Hemond Award is one of four awards in his name. The others are the White Sox Roland Hemond Award, the Baseball America Award and the Society for American Baseball Research (SABR) Award.
Hemond's dream of creating a six-week off-season league for baseball's top prospects in Arizona each fall became reality when the Arizona Fall League began play in 1992 after he spent two years selling the concept to baseball's hierarchy -- first general managers, then owners.
Roland Hemond Award winners
2016: Cris Jones
2015: No award
2014: Dave Dunne
2013: Dave Cilladi
2012: Paul Jensen
2011: Dr. Fred Dicke, Dr. Angelo Mattalino
2010: Tim Purpura
2009: Terry Ryan
2008: Rich Garcia
2007: Frank Robinson
2006: Al Rosen, Dick Wagner
2005: Joan McGrath
2004: Bill Murray
2003: Mike Port
2002: Dan O'Brien, Sr.
2001: Roland Hemond
This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.