Orioles center fielder Adam Jones has garnered plenty of recognition over the past few years for his work off the field, but on Monday he picked up one of the most prestigious honors for community service awarded to a ballplayer.
As part of the Major League Baseball Players Association Players' Choice awards, Jones was named the 2015 Marvin Miller Man of the Year. The award recognizes one player for his combination of on-field performance and community dedication.
It's the first time an Oriole has claimed the honor, which was first presented in 1997. The award is named after the union's first executive director, Miller, who died in 2012 and is considered one of the most influential men in the sport's history.
"When I found out I was a nominee I started to really dig into who [Miller] really was, outside of the game, and I found out some of the things he did to impact people," Jones said. "And to win [the Marvin Miller award] and be in the same boat as some of the past winners, who were great between the lines and used that to influence people, that is pretty cool."
Jones has done extensive work with underprivileged youth in Baltimore and Maryland through such organizations as the Boys and Girls Clubs of Metropolitan Baltimore, MLB's RBI program, the Jackie Robinson Foundation, the Cool Kids Campaign Foundation and the Y in Central Maryland.
As part of the award, he received $50,000 to use for charity and he said he plans on helping more than one organization — and this time it might be in San Diego, his hometown.
"With this opportunity, I'd like to give back to San Diego and the Ys and Boys and Girls Clubs there," he said. "I've given a lot to Baltimore and this is an instance where this 50 grand can help my [original] city."
Jones has also been the Orioles nominee for MLB's top humanitarian honor, the Roberto Clemente Award, in 2013 and 2011. In 2011, he won The Baltimore Sun Media Group's Tim Wheatley Award, presented to a Baltimore-area athlete that gives back to the community.
What makes the Marvin Miller award particularly unique is how the winner is chosen — by players, fans and the association. First, each team nominates one player who has been selected by his teammates to represent the club. An online vote reduces the number of candidates, and then the players association chooses the winner from a group of three finalists. This year it was Jones, Miami Marlins second baseman Dee Gordon and Chicago White Sox closer David Robertson.
"This one takes the cake because, again, it's my peers seeing what I'm doing away from the game … when they are not supposed to be paying attention to you," he said. "I do a lot of stuff in the dark. I'll do it on my own time and with my own resources and it's great to have it thrive that way."
Although an Oriole has never won the Marvin Miller award, several past recipients played for the Orioles at one point in their careers including two-time winner Jim Thome (2001, 2004), Eric Davis (2000) and Sammy Sosa (1999). Last year's winner was Los Angeles Dodgers pitcher Clayton Kershaw.
Jones, 30, hit .269 with 27 home runs and 82 RBIs for the Orioles in 2015. He has played all but 73 of his 1,242 major league games with the Orioles, a club he joined in 2008.