SAN FRANCISCO – Giants rookie Ryder Jones never spent much of his childhood in one place. He followed along as his father, Billy, went from one job assignment to the next: Washington to Oregon to Arizona to Oklahoma to North Carolina.
It was like being in a military family. Except each new base came in sets of four, arranged in a diamond.
Being an assistant college baseball coach is a hard life, with few guarantees or permanent addresses.
“It’s inspiring to me, just because of where he came from,” said Ryder, as he gazed out onto the grass at AT&T Park. “He didn’t have very much money growing up. He threw himself into the coaching community and proved some people wrong and he’s still doing it 25 years later. He’s an established name now.
“That’s exactly what I’m trying to do, just in a different profession.”
Ryder is hitting .140 in his first 13 games, but study his round face and you don’t see the panicked look of a 23-year-old rookie. That’s probably because he has been playing with and against older kids his entire life.
Wherever his father was coaching, including an eight-year stint as an assistant at Oklahoma State, Ryder had a uniform and a place to dress in the clubhouse. When he was 12, he began playing in team scrimmages alongside college scholarship athletes – defense only at first. When he was even younger than that, he’d take infield and outfield practice before games.
“We’d literally put him at shortstop and hook the machine up and shoot ground balls at him,” said Billy Jones, now an assistant at Tulane, holding a phone to his ear as he recruited players at the Area Code Games in Southern California.
click here to read more.