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A Lifetime Love of Baseball

Clyde JonesBaseball has always dominated Clyde Jones Sr.'s life, from his sandlot playing days in Alton, IL, to his recent induction as the first African American into the Roy Hobbs Baseball Hall of Fame, an organization that honors adult players aged 35 and over. Jones has spent more than half a century as a player, manager and league administrator, starting at a time when Jackie Robinson had barely dented the sport's color barrier.

It was a Sunday tradition in Alton, IL, for African-American families to congregate at the local baseball field to watch a game, Jones said. Many had played in the Negro Leagues. "Many of those guys were in their 50s and I was only 15. Some of them couldn't play that long, so I'd get a chance to go out and pitch." They called him Young Blood.

Jones excelled in high school, then came to UCM in the late 1960s where he played for a couple of years, leaving the team to focus on his academics. In 1971 he completed his BS degree in industrial organization, then served as an officer in the U.S. Navy before building a steady career in business. Along the way, he scouted for the Chicago Cubs and worked in the Oakland 's front office.

He landed in San Francisco where he coached baseball at Armijo High but he missed playing. At age 38, the former pitcher started the Solano Braves, then the Fairfield Masters. He set up a Hall of Fame for the NorCal Oldtimers League, which later transitioned into Roy Hobbs. That kept Jones on the field, and after 18 seasons, he and his NorCal Antiques teammates won the Roy Hobbs World Series in 2012. Three years later, he would be inducted into the Hall of Fame.

"It’s not as simple as just playing," Jones said. "You have to be involved and actively helping to build and promote the league, so it's quite an honor and accomplishment to be inducted."