Jones signed with the Washington Senators as a teenager. He played 3 seasons in their low-level minor leagues and did nothing to distinguish himself. By his own admission he went through the motions and failed to perform to his potential. His future baseball career looked non-existent when he was drafted into the U.S. Army. Soon thereafter he was sent to the conflict in Vietnam, where he served 14 straight months as part of an artillery unit on a firebase in a small, remote area of the jungle. His position was once under attack for 45 consecutive days. Jones loved the discipline and structure inherent in the Army, even as he struggled through the horrors of battle. He suffered permanent and significant hearing loss in both ears and lost many comrades to injury or death. He served with distinction and valor, earning a Bronze Star for meritorious bravery. Jones fulfilled his Army obligations and returned to life as a pro baseball player.
He returned a changed man. According to him, he changed his attitude and became a better man. His effort, focus, and dedication to the game underwent a complete turnabout. The fulfillment of his potential became a primary consideration and his payoff was a promotion to the majors. At the same time, his demeanor was such that he enjoyed his every moment in the game, whether he was a success or not. Rain or shine, a hitter or hitless, he had a smile on his face and a kind word for everyone. Baseball was not a life or death proposition; he’d seen the harshness of war and baseball was a mere game. He loved baseball, and he loved life.
When his playing career concluded, Jones became a minor-league coach and manager. Even though he’s won scores of games and many awards for excellence, Jones has never lost sight of his role. “The whole thing is seeing the kids develop,” he said. “That’s the best part … watching them grow and become good players and good men.” Jones has influenced dozens of players who’ve achieved success in the majors. More important, he’s influenced hundreds of young men who’ve achieved greatness as a man. Jones is not just coaching; he’s raising men.
From September 2010, http://raising-a-man.tumblr.com