Stingers pitcher pulls triple duty

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    By John Tomlinson

    SALT LAKE CITY Stingers pitcher Greg Jones seems to live three different lives; he is a pitcher, a special education high school teacher and a football coach.

    Jones began his baseball career playing little league when he was a young boy growing up in St. Petersburg, Fla. He played every position to see which one he liked best.

    He found that he enjoyed playing catcher the most and stayed behind the plate throughout high school and most of his junior college career. However, baseball scouts had other plans for Jones.

    “I didn”t really decide to become a pitcher,” Jones said. “I pitched one inning in junior college and a scout with the Angels asked me if I had any interest in pitching. That”s the route they wanted to go with me, so I started in ”97 pitching.”

    Jones signed his first contract on May 15, 1997 after being selected by the Angels in the 42nd round of the 1996 draft. He has traveled all over, playing in many cities throughout the United States and Canada.

    “That”s another good thing about pro ball, being able to see different places,” Jones said.

    It is difficult to find Jones on the baseball field during the offseason because he is a special education high school teacher in Florida. He is amazed at the circumstances many of the students face each day.

    “These kids don”t know if they are going to see their parents at home at night,” Jones said. “Sometimes they see their friends get killed or doing gang stuff so it”s eye opening for me. These kids don”t have much.”

    Being able to make a difference in students” lives is why Jones enjoys so much what he is doing.

    “It”s a nine-to-five job so it”s not as easy-going as playing ball is, but it”s a lot of fun,” Jones said.

    After teaching in the classroom all day, Jones heads out to the football field of Seminole High School to run football practice. He enjoys the mental change of pace it provides in his life and seems to do quite well at coaching.

    “They are doing pretty good,” Jones said. “We have won three district titles in a row. I don”t know, we have had some good players go through there though. It is going to be a little tougher this year though.”

    It seems as though Jones couldn”t possibly have time for anything else in his busy schedule. Nevertheless, he manages to represent the Stingers at many public events throughout the community, signing autographs for the youngsters.

    He hopes those experiences make a lasting positive impact on the kids he interacts with.

    Right now, Jones leads the Stingers with 48 strikeouts and one day wants to make it to the big leagues.

    “Just like everybody else, my main goal is just trying to stay consistent,” Jones said. “Obviously once you get to this level, if you can prove your consistency enough, then once an opportunity comes along somebody will give you a shot. So you just keep your fingers crossed for that.”

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