Getting To Know: Jason Jones

Jason Jones accepting the Samuel J. Plumeri, Sr. Community Service Award in 2007 from Thunder GM Brad Taylor

Our popular “Getting To Know” series has featured Chase Wright, P.J. Pilittere, Colin Curtis, Mark Melancon and Phil Coke so far.

This is probably my favorite series of features I’ve done in a long time.  All the guys have been really good about doing it, and not only does it give you an idea of the personalities and interests of some of your favorite players, it also helps me to get to know them better as well.

I’ve got a few guys in mind I’d like to interview for this, but if anyone has any suggestions, you can always send them along.

As for this particular one, if we’re really being honest here, I should admit that I wasn’t always thrilled to come to the ballpark for a Jason Jones start.  When I first took over this beat in 2006, I was VERY caught up in the “prospects” game, and JJ’s never really been considered much of a prospect for one reason or another.

After a while, I realized how stupid that was…if you can hit, you can hit.  If you can pitch, you can pitch.  There’s no doubt that Jason Jones can pitch.  Now, I look forward to covering his turn on the mound, because I know I’m going to see a quality start almost every time.

I’ve also learned that Jason is a quality person as well, and is universally considered to be one of “the good guys” by fans and the media.

Hopefully, this interview gives you some insight as to why…

Mike Ashmore: Tell me something about Jason Jones that’s going to surprise some people…

Jason Jones: “I don’t know…the only thing that comes to mind is that I started fishing this off-season, and I’ve been pretty into that.  We like to fish.  I tell everybody I’m from the south because I’m from Maryland, and it’s south of The Mason-Dixon Line.  But we have an argument at least once a day with me when I tell everybody I’m from the south, and nobody thinks that’s the south.  My argument is that The Mason-Dixon Line separated the north from the south in the war, and The Mason-Dixon Line is our northern border.  That’s kind of random…I just tell everybody I’m from the south.”

Ashmore: I’ll save you from another argument on that one…but why the sudden interest in fishing?

Jones: “I grew up on the Chesapeake Bay in Maryland and would fish a lot growing up with my dad.  Playing baseball every summer, the only time in Maryland you can fish is the summer.  So I kind of gave it up and played baseball all the time.  This off-season, back in Florida, they fish year round.  I actually met my girlfriend, and she has her own boat and kind of got me back into it and kind of brought me back to my childhood.  I really enjoy it.  I’ve always golfed in my spare time.  Instead of having the strenuous activity of golfing, as much as it is, it’s so much more relaxing to sit on the boat and fish and be on the water.  It’s something I really love.”

Ashmore: So what’s a typical in-season thing you like to do outside of fishing?

Jones: “Both off days we’ve had so far, I went to Six Flags.  We get in for free because Brad gets us passes and all.  That was really enjoyable.  I guess in my down time, I don’t do a whole lot.  I read fishing magazines and stuff like that.  We don’t really get a chance to do a whole lot.”

Ashmore: You big into movies or music at all?

Jones: “Not really.  Actually, growing up, I wasn’t allowed to listen to any music besides oldies and country.  I grew up in a really strict Christian family.  Everybody knows about all the 80’s music, but I missed all the 80’s stuff.”

Ashmore: Honestly man, that’s probably for the best

Jones: “Yeah.  But I listen to everything now.  Country mostly, but rock, rap, classical…really anything, I listen to.  I may not know who it is, but I like it.”

Ashmore: Any favorite song or artist or anything like that?

Jones: “I’ll tell you a story about my come out song, “Sweet Child O’ Mine” by Guns N’ Roses.  As a child, my dad’s work had season tickets to AHL hockey.  My first memory ever is they were playing Sweet Child O’ Mine, and they had a fire lit and the hockey team entered the ice playing that song.  So I remember as a little kid –this was probably ’89, so I was probably five or six — just coming out, and the excitement of the hockey team coming out.  Every time I hear it now, it gives me chills.”

“Another story about that same song, when my brother got married, he and his wife got introduced for the first time to the same song.  It’s the come out song that I’ve always had.  Actually, the same song, it was the first tape I ever had and I got in trouble for it.  My mom found the tape, Guns N’ Roses Appetite For Destruction, and it had Sweet Child O’ Mine on it.  It’s a big kind of a joke now, I don’t even know if my parents really realize it.  That’s the song we grew up listening to and going to the hockey games, so it has all that history behind it and it’s kind of funny.”

Ashmore: Are you a hockey guy at all?  I actually consider myself more of a hockey guy than a baseball guy, so what you said about going to hockey games when you were a kid is pretty interesting to me… 

Jones: “We used to go to all these hockey games, like every weekend.  And growing up, I always said I wanted to be a hockey player.  My parents were going to try to sign me up, but I guess the ice times for kids in Maryland was either six in the morning or ten at night and there was all this money for insurance and other stuff.  So they thought baseball was a lot easier.  My older brother started playing when he was five and I was three.  I went to all the practices and played with him, so loving baseball really started when I was three.  I used to cry because I couldn’t put on the uniform and go play when my brother got to play, so that’s kind of how I got started into baseball.  But before that, I always wanted to be a hockey player.  But then it kind of changed to baseball.”

Ashmore: On one side, being in Trenton for as long as you’ve been probably sucks, because nobody wants to be at a certain level of the minor leagues for too long.  But on the other hand, it’s good in a way because you get to know the area really well and know where to go and where not to go.  Not to give away any of your prime spots or anything, but is there any particular place in the area that people might not know a lot about — a restaurant or whatever — that you really enjoy going to?

Jones: “The funny thing is my parents are really strict and conservative.  Really strict.  They don’t even know if I drink.  Out of respect for them, I never drink in front of them.  So I’m not going to say, ‘Well here’s a really great spot, they’ve got really great drinks and all that stuff’ and my parents get wind of it.  I’m sure they realize I’m 25 and I do my own thing, but out of respect for them, I don’t drink in front of them.  We don’t even talk about it.  There’s a few nice places to go, but I don’t even want to cross that road.”

Ashmore: Well, I mean I’m sure there’s a good place to go to for a…ummm, soda and so on.

Jones: “Yeah.  I like Shirley Temples.  There’s a random thing about me that not a lot of people know.  After almost every game, I go out to eat with my parents or we go hang out or whatever, I’ll go get a Shirley Temple.  It’s cherry, sprite, whatever.  I don’t know why, it’s my drink of choice, I guess you could say, for after the games.”

Ashmore: I don’t curse in front of my parents, so I can actually understand what you’re saying about not drinking in front of them…

Jones: “It’s just a matter of respect.  That’s the way I was raised, that we never cursed and drank.  Really, it was a pretty strict and conservative Christian family.  And it’s just out of respect for them, that’s why I don’t do it.”

Ashmore: When was the last time you had hair on your head?

Jones: “It’s funny.  In college, and even growing up, I always had long hair.  College especially.  Real shaggy, real big goatee and long hair.  Then I got drafted by the Yankees and everybody’s like ‘Oh, you have to have your hair cut.’  So for me, it was always that inbetween stage.  In my first year with the Yankees, when I played for Staten Island, I just hated it.  We always wore a hat.  I’m not going to lie, it was getting a little thin, the receding hairline was getting up there a little bit.  So I just said, you know what why don’t I just shave it.  We always wear a hat anyway.  It’s low maintenance, no big deal.  Fine.  In instructs (instructional league) in 2004, at the end of my first year, that was the first time I shaved it.  Everybody thought it looked like a big white head with no sun.  Then I just started trimming it and trimming it real close, no razor and no guard.  Probably the last two years, I started just doing straight razor and it’s a lot easier to maintain.  That was 2004, so I guess it’s been four years now almost since I had hair.  I like it.  The ladies love it too.”

Ashmore: That’s the perfect way to end it…

Mike Ashmore, mashmore98 AT gmail.com

6 Responses to “Getting To Know: Jason Jones”

  1. Gabe Says:

    Very cool, Mike. Fun questions = fun answers. 🙂
    JJ is a very cool, laid back, nice guy.

  2. thunderbaseball Says:

    Glad you enjoyed it. For example, one of the A-Jack questions deals with how badly he would destroy me in a game of one-on-one (basketball)…so I really, really try to keep the questions light for something like this.

    Not sure who’s up next, I was actually thinking I might try to do one with Tony Franklin…

  3. Gabe Says:

    I’d imagine you’d get some really fun stuff with him. He seems chill like that and it would be different.

  4. Scooter Says:

    Mike –
    I can see why this is fun for you. We all get wrapped up in wins and losses, fastball velocities, etc… and it’s easy to forget that there are people playing the game.

    Jason does seem like a genuinely good guy, with a pretty good sense of humor about himself. I can’t imagine a lot of pro baseball players talking about drinking Shirley Temples, for example

    The interesting thing about Jones to me is this – he’s able to maintain focus and perform at a high level despite the hype surrounding other pitching prospects – whether it’s Melancon, Joba, Kontos, Horne, Aceves, Kennedy, Hughes, Marquez, or even Igawa. Seems like he’s finally on the Yankees’ radar.

    A-Jack was recruited to play basketball at Georgia Tech, so I think he’d destroy most people 1-on-1.

  5. dan Says:

    Who would win 1-on-1 in basketball… CJ Henry or A-Jack?

    p.s. I don’t expect anyone to know the answer

  6. Anonymous Says:

    As a result of extensive and painstaking research, I have located an exclusive picture of Jason Jones….with hair 😉

    Go to pg 5:

    Click to access Liberty%20Baseball%20(pgs.%201-14).pdf

    Yes, the offseason is entirely too long. *sigh*

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