Reporting Tracy Perlman
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Baseball has many players. I don’t mean just those on the field. There are coaches, hundreds of employees who work front office and dozens who groom the field.
There are also the people who work in the stadium, the vendors, reporters, TV crews, merchandise sellers, fans, reporters. You get the idea.
One of those guys who’s “a part of the sport” is Gordy Jones.
He’s worn many hats throughout his career: a newspaper writer, blogger, photographer and most recently, children’s author.
“Baseball is my passion,” Jones said. “I love kids and I like to do as many things as I can. I’m having more fun now than I’ve ever had in my life.”
Jones had aspirations to become a baseball player. Now, instead, he gets to write about the sport he loves and has even made some lifelong friendships because of it.
His book, “Baseball Guy,” isn’t just a kids’ book about baseball. It’s about dreaming big, setting goals and making the right choices to accomplish those goals.
“If you love something, practice it and do it, it can come true. It’s a good message for kids and adults,” Jones said.
He joked that the main character in the book is familiar.
“I know a guy who wanted to be a Minnesota Twins baseball player. It didn’t go so well, so instead he wrote about them. Guess what? That’s me!” Jones said.
Since its debut in 2006, the book has been an instant classic for fans and players alike.
Open the book and you’ll find a special message written by Joe Mauer, echoing Jones’ themes. Mauer knows that when it comes to life in the big league, nothing gets handed to you.
“A lot of hard work goes into playing at this level,” Mauer said. “I always tell kids to have fun.”
So what advice does Mauer give to the kids who want to become the next MLB superstar out of Minnesota?
“When you’re 11, 12, 13 years old, you shouldn’t be thinking about that,” he said. “You should be thinking about getting your schoolwork done, being a good person and hopefully as you get older things will go your way. You know, sometimes your dreams do come true.”
After “Baseball Guy” came out, former Twin and Hall of Famer Harmon Killebrew approached Jones, asking to be a part of the next edition.
“It was another ‘I had to pinch myself’ moment,” Jones said. “I watched him with my dad as a little boy, and we became friends. We had some really special moments before his passing.”
Killebrew is just one of the ball players of whom Jones has fond memories. His rolodex of friends is like a dream-team all-star list. There are current Twins like Mauer, Justin Morneau and manager Ron Gardenhire.
To see Jones really light up, ask about former players like Tony Oliva, Kirby Puckett and Dave Winfield.
“Dave really opened the door to the baseball world for me,” Jones said.
Winfield asked him to be the photographer for the Winfield Foundation, a non-profit that supports the communities in which he played baseball. In the Twin Cities, the foundation supports a scholarship program for underprivileged children.
Jones’ plans to become a baseball player didn’t pan out, but that’s okay. He’s still surrounded by the game he loves.
“Sometimes while at the ballpark, I’m about to write a story. I look out at the green grass, see the guys throw the ball around and watch the coaches,” he said.
He currently writes the “Minnesota Twins Talk” column. You can find his article in many local publications and websites across the state.
His book “Baseball Guy” is available online and in some stores. Jones currently plans to work on a version for football and hockey players, too. It’s that passion for kids, sports and twists of luck that keeps him in the game.
“I think, ‘Wow, I’m so lucky.’ Had I become a ball player, I would have come and gone already. I’ve been doing this a long time, and guess what? I’m still on the field,” Jones said.