After 40-plus years of coaching Rantoul Post 287 American Legion baseball, Allen Jones Sr. is retiring.
Anyone that has ever been to a baseball game in Rantoul has probably seen Jones somewhere on the sidelines.
Jones wanted to coach until he was 70 and that is what he did.
“I had always said I wanted to coach until I was 70. I turned 70 earlier this year , and I felt like this was the right time,” Jones said
Jones said that ‘it’s time for new coaches to take his place.
“I always knew at some point it would be time for the younger bodies to take over,” Jones said
Coaching baseball has always been a love for Jones but it wasn’t the X’s and O’s that Jones loved the most.
“Building relationships with the families has meant the world to me. I get to see kids I coached now have kids of their own play,” Jones said.
Although he is excited for the next chapter Jones, knows that not being involved with the everyday operation of Rantoul American Legion baseball will be different.
“It’s going to be different, I don’t know how it will feel because I have never done it,” Jones said.
One of the reasons Jones was able to put over 40 years of effort into the program was because of the relationship the Legion has with the Rantoul Recreation Department.
“I have talked to multiple other coaches, and they talk about having to get up early and line the fields and get the concessions ready. We don’t have to do that here. We can get to the field and coach baseball, and that is special.” Jones said.
Current Post 287 head coach Garry Smith says Jones will be missed.
“He is going to be missed tremendously. Not only for his baseball knowledge but his many other contributions,” Smith said.
Jones does want more people involved in the program and not just coaching.
“We need more people to get out there. Not everyone can sit on the sidelines. We need more coaches, players and umpires to get involved,” Jones said
Jones knows that him retiring from coaching will give him more time to spend with his family.
“It will be weird to be able to go to lunch with my family after church on Sunday and not have to head straight to the field,”
And just because Jones won’t be on the sidelines doesn’t mean he won’t be there, but it won’t be easy.
“It’s going to be hard to sit in the stands and watch a game.”
Contact Ryan Birch at Rbirch@Rantoulpress.com or on Twitter @RyanBirchRP