Jones, MLBPA celebrate Mosher Little League
Current, former O's stars join union president Clark to support Baltimore institution
BALTIMORE -- The helmets, gloves and cleats donated by the MLB Player's Association to James Mosher Little League was the tangible representation of the deeper support that Adam Jones, Frank Robinson, Tony Clark and others were there to offer.
"We have an impact, and we can make impacts, so I think what we're going to do is use our abilities and try and impact where we can," Jones said Saturday morning.
Jones, Delmon Young and several former players spent part of their morning at the James Mosher Fields, the home of one of the country's longest continuously operating African-American Little Leagues. The day signified the beginning of what all parties hope is a long relationship between both organizations.
"I think at the end of the day, Baltimore is one of the spots where you look to try make an impact in the near-term and the long-term, and you're looking for where that impact has already been made and how you can support it," said Clark, the president of the Players Association. "Obviously, all of us are aware of the challenges that have been here for a while now, and baseball often times is … the one thing that can bring communities together and affords kids, and parents, adults, to distract themselves from what may have happened during the week."
For those in inner-city Baltimore, the recent culmination of those challenges was the riots in late April following the death of Freddie Gray, which didn't enter the immediate West Baltimore community but coincided with the James Mosher Little League's opening day.
While notable figures, including mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake, were unable to make an appearance, the celebration of the league that started in 1959 went right along.
"It was one of the better opening days we've ever had," said Walter Douglass, the league's executive secretary. "When there were protests in the heart of the city, our kids and players and parents came out to celebrate the game and what we have here."
Unlike opening day, Rawlings-Blake was able to make an appearance Saturday. She spoke to the crowd before throwing out the first pitch.
"James Mosher has been a steadfast part of this community for decades, and to see this tradition not just continue, but flourish, gives me a lot of pride," Rawlings-Blake said. "These kids out here, they're learning the important skills of teamwork, integrity and hard work, and they're learning it from men in the community who are really some of our top business leaders, top community and civic leaders."
Before Jones and Young arrived to answer questions and sign autographs, three games were held across the fields. Fittingly, in the 10-12 year old division, the Orioles walked off against the Twins. Both the celebration and disappointment were short-lived, however. After all, the kids' idols were walking in.
"I don't just think I'm the face of the franchise, it's sports here," said Jones. " It's [Joe] Flacco with the Ravens and me with the Orioles. And the city so happens to be predominantly African-American, so I think it's just where I fit in. I didn't shy away and I'm not going to shy away from the issues that need to be tackled."