BY DAVID RUSSELL
Bobby M. Jones, a member of the 2000 National League champion Mets, is ready for his managing debut. The former pitcher is now leading the Sussex Miners of the Can-Am League.
“I’m super excited,” Jones said. “It’s something I always wanted to do. I’m really looking forward to it.”
Jones had recently been a pitching coach with the Rockland Boulders but the managerial position was one that Jones thought about even as a child. “People laugh when I say that as a youngster I was really into Strat-O-Matic,” Jones said. “I’d play the 1927 Yankees against the Pirates. It was about building teams and building rosters. Independent ball is all of those things.”
Even as a player, the southpaw pitcher thought about his future. “I’ve always wanted to coach,” Jones said. “To sit and talk pitching with Mike Hampton or Pedro Martinez or someone better than you, and they’re also listening to you and learning from you, it made me say this is what I really want to do. I’m like a sponge. I absorbed everything.”
Mets fans likely remember that Jones shared a name with teammate and fellow pitcher Bobby J. Jones, who threw a one-hitter against the Giants in the 2000 NLDS. “First we pitched against each other head-to-head when I was with Colorado,” Bobby M. Jones said. “To be teammates with him was a blessing. He was a great guy. Just a really special person.”
After Jones was acquired from Colorado, he was introduced along with several other new Mets at the All-Star Café in Manhattan. “That was a special moment,” Jones said. “It was a good ballclub with that group. And we had a great manager. Bobby Valentine was one of the better strategy guys. I looked at a lot of things he did as a manager.”
The former Met knows he’s coaching in a more player-friendly era, but doesn’t mind. “It’s just a different kid today than when I was coming up,” Jones said. “You can’t be that rough. You have to be a different type of manager. But as a player I’d like to have it this way, more laid-back. I want them to be able to let their hair down.
Why shouldn’t you be having a blast?”
The first-time manager is looking to help players in the independent league eventually get to where he was. “To do something you love and see a kid who was maybe not as fortunate as you were to make it, and you can give those guys huge insight not only to get better but go up a few notches then the next guy, see why they were released and how to get better,” Jones said.
Jones pitched in eight games in the final month of the season as the Mets made their playoff push and clinched the wild-card in the National League. “Old Shea Stadium really used to rock,” Jones said. “To have a winner in Flushing is different. It’s a little bit different from the Yankees fans. A little bit more blue-collar. People really appreciate it.”
Despite not pitching extensively in New York, Jones is remembered for his time. “It’s crazy how you grow up as a Mets fan and now people relate you as a Met,” Jones said.