Photo | Courtesy city of Mobile
Cleon Jones and Mayor Sandy Stimpson unveiled nine new sports themed collages at the RSA Tower last week.
The Mobile starting nine all-time baseball team would have a great chance to win a seven-game series against the best nine from any other city in the world.
Cleon Jones, a part of the rich baseball history of Mobile as a member of the 1969 Miracle Mets that featured three outfielders from the city, is doing his best to make sure the city’s sports distinction is not overlooked.
Last Friday at Government Plaza, Jones joined Mayor Sandy Stimpson and Mobile Sports Hall of Fame chairman of the board Joe Gottfried to unveil nine new collages that celebrate some of the accomplishments of so many great Mobilians.
“All of you understand that Mobile has so much history,” Jones said. “As far as I’m concerned, this is hidden history that nobody knows about, and if they know about it, they’re not sharing it. We want to share it and make sure that it’s not just hidden.”
The gorgeous collages don’t yet have a permanent home, but there is the possibility they could be part of the Mobile Sports Hall of Fame planned for the lobby of the RSA Tower.
Let’s get to that starting nine from Mobile that is featured in one of the collages. You don’t have to be a huge baseball fan to recognize most of the names.
The outfield features hall-of-famers Hank Aaron and Billy Williams along with Miracle Met Tommie Agee. The infield includes third-baseman Josh Donaldson, who is still today one of the best hitters in the game, hall-of-fame shortstop Ozzie Smith, second baseman Frank Bolling, hall-of-fame first baseman Willie McCovey, catcher Double Duty Radcliffe and pitchers Satchel Paige and Jake Peavy.
“When I go around the country and talk about five in Cooperstown for a city our size, they say there’s no city in the country with five in Cooperstown from a community our size and even many of the larger communities,” Gottfried said. “When Cleon played, you talk about the Miracle Mets, coming out in ’69. Here comes Cleon, Tommie Agee and Amos Otis manning the outfield. All three are right here from Mobile.
“Robert Brazile, for a long time should have been in the Pro Football Hall of Fame. Dr. Doom will be inducted in August in Canton, Ohio. The history will never run out of individuals. We’re going to induct six (into the Mobile Sports Hall of Fame) in April. We’ve got a list of 50 that still needs to be in that hall of fame some time.
“When you look at the athletes that are playing pro baseball and football, and we’ve also got three coaches in the NBA coaching and two players playing the NBA. What we’re trying to do is, once we get this museum on the ground, we’ve got every sixth grader that’s going to go through the museum, and they’ll be able to punch in a name and it will talk about the player. And they’ll start thinking, I might be in that hall of fame someday, male or female.
“That’s what we want to do, bring more pride to our community, and we’ve got the leadership and the mayor. And when you’ve got people like Cleon, we’re really excited to be part of this. With the hall of fame, we can really add to our community pride.”
“Being able to meet and know what Cleon Jones is trying to do for our community is an example of so many that have something in their heart that they’re trying to give back and trying to bring other Mobilians together that help tell the story so that we will excite our young people and other people who don’t even live in our city to understand who we are and what a great city we have,” Stimpson said. “When I started this interaction and Cleon would come see me and share an idea and I would share an idea. Next thing I know, he’s back up with whatever it was I suggested. He loves this city, and he wants to see if he can do something that can have a legacy that already exists but is not well known. To the degree that I can be a small part of that, or even a bigger one, that’s what I want to do, because I want to lead the community we want to be. We’ve got to leverage off the skill sets and the passion of those that live here.”
Jones agreed that all his work is devoted to showing Mobile in a positive light.
“What we’ve done is we’ve put together some items that speak to the history that we’re trying to get out,” Jones said. “This history is not just about adults. We need to send this message to our young folks. Our young folks see these collages, and they’ll understand that these people come from Mobile. If he can do it, so can I.”
Randy Kennedy writes a weekly column for Lagniappe and is co-host of Sports Drive every weekday from 3-6 p.m. on WNSP 105.5 FM, the country’s first all-sports FM station.