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Rich Jones: An Inspirational Cancer Survival Story Played Out in New York

Submitted by Jim Forde, Long Island Tides manager

I play for and manage the Long Island Tides 52+ team in the New York City area.  One of our long time veterans is a wonderful guy named Rich "Jonesy" Jones.  About seven or eight years ago, Rich had to have a large portion of his left jaw removed because of cancer. He had major reconstructive surgery, including placement of metal hardware and screws to substitute for missing bone. Through all of this, he still kept playing first base and hitting .400 and has attended Mets Fantasy Camp every year. This past January, in fact, he was inducted into the Mets Fantasy Camp Hall of Fame.

As we began getting ready for this spring/summer season, Jonesy told me that his body had started rejecting the metal and hardware that essentially created his left jaw.  He told me that in all likelihood he could play through April and May, but that he would then need to have all the hardware removed from his face and new prosthetics installed. This, of course, meant to me that he would be done for the year. No, Jonesy said, he would be back in action in a few weeks.

Lo and behold he was back on the field within weeks of his surgery, helping us in our stretch run for the playoffs, a great victory in the semi-finals, and our first ever trip to the Championship Series. On Sunday, July 10th, Jonesy was scheduled to be introduced on the field at CitiField as one of the new inductees into the Mets Fantasy Camp Hall of Fame. However, since he was falling short in qualifying for at-bats for post-season play, he skipped that ceremony to attend our MSBL game and get his AB’s. He could have easily used his medical condition as an excuse to request an exemption for required at-bats, but his team was more important.  Team before self.

No excuses, no complaints, no feeling sorry for himself. Through it all, he always gives 150% and dedicates himself to what is best for the team.  In our recent playoff game, despite the 100+ heat index and artificial surface temperatures high enough to actually melt the glue on the soles of turfs shoes, Jonesy was out there at first base when we bowed out of the deciding game, and reached base in his final at bat this year.

It is truly an honor to call this inspirational man my friend and teammate.

Jim Forde

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