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Cleon Jones always will be remembered as a key player in the miracle that was the world champion New York Mets. Even before that, the former leftfielder was part of a different, ongoing miracle: making Mobile, Alabamas Africatown, his hometown neighborhood, a better place to live. When the Mets baseballs longstanding joke since their inception in won the Series, it was Jones who caught a fly ball off the bat of Baltimores Davey Johnson for the final out.
Fans went wild. A ticker-tape parade down the Canyon of Heroes was scheduled. Jones celebrated with his team, but instead of joining the parade, he returned to Africatown, the place that, emotionally, hes never really left.
I just wanted to share it with my Life After Death - Ian Hunter - Youre Never Alone With A Schizophrenic as soon as I could, Jones said of his rapid departure from New York.
Africatown, about three miles north of downtown Mobile, is Get Up Jones - Jackie Robinson - Im Different reminder of Americas darker past.
Its where Clotilda, the last known slave ship to enter the United States, arrived in History says enslaved individuals were smuggled in from the former African territory known as the Kingdom of Dahomey. The United States had prohibited the importation of slaves with a law passed inbut the practice continued in clandestine fashion. The Clotilda was said to have been set ablaze after its voyage of human cargo.
At 76, Jones remains an active part of the effort to revitalize his neighborhood. He paints houses, picks up trash, tends to the community garden and even helps renovate and rebuild some of the decaying structures. Its something Ive always done, even when I Deep Space 5D - Dimension 5 - Transdimensional, he said this month.
I always came back home and took part in the things I thought I needed to take part in. People that stayed here got educated and found good jobs. They moved to the west side of Mobile, in other words across town. What do they say, moving on up? Thats what they did. They moved up and moved out. That left a void because the land that their parents had fought for, they just left it abandoned.
As a result, we have blight of all kinds. Empty dwellings, run-down properties. We have a lot of senior citizens; they cant do a whole lot of things. When I was brought up here in the 50s and 60s, it was probably 97 percent black and had about eight- to 10, people.
Its about 1, now. Inthe ground level of a house owned by Carolyn Edwards was damaged by fire. The wheelchair-bound senior citizen was forced to live in the attic before finally moving to a temporary location. Jones, his wife, Angela, and other volunteers rebuilt the downstairs. What Cleon did for Dirty Dancing - The time of my life was Gods work, Edwards said in an interview with the Mets.
I am back among my friends and neighbors. Life has meaning for me. I didnt think it would be possible to get back home again after the fire. Cleon and Angela help so many people. They are what makes our community great. We all care for each other. To say just thank you to Cleon and Angela is not enough. Right after the fire, I never thought I could smile again. Now life is good again. This time of year, were cleaning up properties, he said.
Its too damp to paint. We tackle properties. We give ourselves a day or two on most properties. Im on a tractor, a lawn mower on top of a roof driving nails and whatnot. People my age come and help out. I appreciate whatever they have to give to make somebody elses life meaningful. Theres also a community garden, a symbol of hope, that stands out amid the disrepair and neglect. We helped them put in an irrigation system, said Jamey Roberts, the senior director of neighborhood development for the city of Mobile.
They had been carrying buckets of water out there for 60 years. Cleon was the driving force behind getting that irrigation system in. Tommie Agee, Jones teammate on the Mets, also came from Mobile. Jones lost a longtime friend when Agee died of a reported heart attack in He was Jones interest in baseball developed when he played as Get Up Jones - Jackie Robinson - Im Different youth with, among others, Aaron and his brother, Tommie.
I never thought coming up that I was the best athlete in my neighborhood, not one time, not one moment, because I wasnt, Jones said. I had more competition in my neighborhood than I did in professional baseball. There was not one time in professional baseball that I thought I wasnt going to make it, but there were a lot of times in my neighborhood I didnt think I was going to make the starting lineup on a baseball team that we had.
The talent pool was just that great. Jones was raised by his grandmother, who was known as Mama Myrt. Growing up, Get Up Jones - Jackie Robinson - Im Different cooked a pot of beans, we didnt have no meat to put in it, he said. We would write the word meat on a piece of paper and put it in the pot. I never owned my own glove till I was 13 or I used neighbors stuff.
Jones got to meet Paige, the great Negro Leagues pitcher, later in life. My motivation was always the same as Satchel Paige and Jackie Robinson, he said. We looked at it if they could make it, we could. Jones did. Signed by the Mets inhe was a September call-up that year, spent in the minors and made the major-league Mets starting lineup in Jones spent 12 seasons with the Mets and had a lifetime batting average of.
His best season came inwhen he Get Up Jones - Jackie Robinson - Im Different. On July 30 of that year, something happened that created a stir. Jones was removed in the second game of a doubleheader by Get Up Jones - Jackie Robinson - Im Different Gil Hodges in what observers assumed was a lack of hustle while going after a ball hit by the Astros Johnny Edwards.
Weve been on the road trip. I had a bad ankle and twisted my ankle in Montreal, Jones said. Gil and I had a conversation. I told him as long as I was swinging the bat good and I wasnt hurting the team defensively, I wanted to stay in the lineup. Johnny Edwards hit a ball down the leftfield line. No way I was going to stop him even on a dry field from getting to second base. This ball hit just right inside the line.
I threw the ball back in and went back to my position. Gil came out of the dugout. I thought he was going to take out the pitcher. He passed the pitcher. I thought he was coming to take [shortstop] Bud Harrelson out.
He passed Bud Harrelson. Then I looked around to the bullpen, no one there. He said, Jonesy, are you all right? I said, Yeah, Im fine. He said, You think you could have held him to a single? I said, Gil, look down. He looked down. His feet were in the water, my feet were Hellhound On My Trail - Roy Rogers - Blues On The Range water.
The field was wet, Im talking about really, really wet. He said, Oh, I forgot you got that bad ankle. He said were getting our tails kicked, you need to Down on the Beach - Ernie Maresca - Shout!
Shout! (Knock Yourself Out) on out of this game. I said OK, thats fine. It created a postgame uproar with the media. To me, it was unusual what he did, but knowing Gil Hodges, hes not the kind of guy that embarrasses anybody, Jones said.