Jones' gift echoes value of Negro Leagues

Jones' gift echoes value of Negro Leagues

KANSAS CITY -- When Orioles center fielder Adam Jones contributed $20,000 to the Negro Leagues Baseball Museum on Saturday, it was tied to his overall development as a person.

"It all culminates," Jones said. "I'm still growing a lot. I'm only 31. There's a lot on my shoulders, but I'm still growing, and I think there's a lot more to go."

Through his many visits to the museum since entering the Major Leagues, Jones has developed a keen appreciation for the Negro League players, who built a bridge to the Majors so subsequent players could cross that bridge. Thus, he made the decision to give back financially.

Jones was the target of racial taunts May 1 in Boston, but Negro Leagues Baseball Museum President Bob Kendrick said plans for Jones' donation to the museum had been underway well before the incident, which has touched off a discussion on racism throughout the sports world.

"It sends a tremendous message to young, aspiring baseball players about how you should conduct yourself, and how important it is, as you grow in a sport, to grow as a man," Kendrick said. "And to be able to give back to those less fortunate than yourself. Adam is a fine young man. "

Kendrick said the contribution by Jones will be used to help with new technology. The museum is building a new exhibition called Barrier Breakers, which looks at the complete integration of baseball from Jackie Robinson in 1947 through Pumpsie Green in Boston in 1959. It took those 12 years for the game to become fully integrated.

Jones would love to see as many people as possible learn as much as possible about the Negro Leagues. Tony Clark, the MLB Players Association executive director, was on hand Saturday for the announcement of Jones' contribution.

"There are a lot of guys who have come through the museum and have an appreciation and respect for the museum," Clark said. "It's nice to have Adam voice his support for the museum in the fashion that he has. Adam is somebody who is very passionate about it.

"This was way before anything that has happened in recent weeks. He wanted to show his support. This wasn't a cause-and-effect. This was something he was passionate about well before."

Jones' appearance at the Negro Leagues Museum, in the aftermath of the Boston incident, served to create more positive discussion Saturday about strides that must be made from a racial standpoint.

"The truth remains, there's still some work to do," Clark said.

Jones made his appearance at the museum at mid-day before Saturday's Royals-Orioles night game.

"Let's get more and more kids and adults here, so they can understand what the Negro Leagues was about," Jones said. "I'm just excited about the betterment of baseball."

Robert Falkoff is a contributor to MLB.com based in Kansas City. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.