Mike Jones goes under local baseball radar

It was important for the community to have a place for the kids to play during the summer ... Mike Jones

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Mike Jones takes in Greenville Citizens Baseball League (GCBL) Opening Day at Greenville's Sater Heights Park. (Gaylen Blosser photo)

GREENVILLE – Mike Jones coached for 25 years for Greenville Citizens Baseball League (GCBL) at Sater Heights Park but goes under the radar today in his continual promotion of the local summer boys baseball program.

“When my oldest son started when he was seven years old, and they needed an assistant coach, so I started assistant coaching,” Jones said. “Then I started coaching and I coached for 25 years through all six kids.”

Jones had five boys playing at Sater and a daughter competing at the boys’ facility before moving on to softball.

“My daughter played down here and then switched to softball,” he said, “it was a great transition for her.”

Jones was pleased to have had many good parents help with the program, notably Rick and Kathy Beam and the late Greg Hiller as well as many great GCBL officers and trustees.

“I had a lot of great people that wanted to get the kids down here,” Jones stated. “At the time, we had 450 kids and 10 teams in each one of the leagues. We started T-ball when I was down here originally, Little Sluggers so we could have kids from three years old up to high school playing down here. It was important for the community to have a place for the kids to play during the summer.”

Jones saw a need for a place for local kids to play during the offseason and opened one of his large buildings for year-round indoor play – a facility that soon became known as “The Yard.”

“They needed a place to be able to bat the ball and I wanted to set it up,” he said. “The kids needed a good place to play down here. We always talk about needing a place for the kids to play and do things in a safe environment and get the kids off the TVs and monitors, and now with cell phones.”

“Kids coming out here to play baseball, enrollment is down, but we have great officers now, and we’re going to start rebuilding, bring more teams in and more kids so we can have more teams,” Jones added. “It’s looking good.”

Jones shared his thoughts with kids playing sports on select teams instead of local traveling teams.

“My kids played traveling teams which all came from the local organization,” he said. “They could have easily went to select team but a friend of ours, Greg Hiller and we coached together for years, he’s passed away but he was a good coach and we found out that one of our competitors, always seemed to be at all our tournaments. He coached the select team for 10-15 years, a long time, and his last kid was going through, and I said, after this is all said and done, what do you think of the select team because we always had ours based on everything that comes out of our recreational baseball.”

“He said, ‘you know, select teams are ok’ but he pointed out the shortstop plays for Northmont, the second baseman goes to Centerville, basically all the players split up after select teams so even though they gelled great for their development years they don’t play together,” Jones said. “I think it’s a lot better for the school system, for the school team for Greenville coming out of the rec league because the All-Stars play, and then they move up to the high school, giving them good continuity.’

“You can pay the big bucks, and you can go out on select teams and go all over the state and interstate, but I think there’s a lot to keeping the kids in town playing with each other so they can gel together when they go up to high school.”

“When I was down here, Joe Marker was instrumental in helping with starting the Yard, which is for the high school team and also the ACME, and when he was here as high school coach,” Jones concluded. “He did a lot to build up the team.”

GCBL 2024 Opening Day would not have taken place on the planned date due to heavy rains had it not been for the work and support of Mike Jones and serveral of his family members.

“They spent the last two days helping us prepare the fields and multiple days in the last few weeks,” said GCBL Commissioner Brent Short. “The Ventrac he uses smooths out this field. The Jones family is out here helping get the concessions clean, and this is not a random day, they are out here putting boards around and doing something.”