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February 19, 2014

Former Fraser baseball star gets jersey retired by Oakland University

By Thomas Franz
C & G Sports Writer

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Oakland coach John Musachio, Mike Carson and Brad Jones are pictured during Jones’ jersey retirement ceremony.

ROCHESTER HILLS — It’s been 10 years since Brad Jones was severely injured in a car accident during the summer between his freshman and sophomore years at Oakland University.

Jones, a former standout of the Fraser baseball team, was a member of the Oakland baseball program as a catcher. He redshirted his freshman season.

On Feb. 1, Oakland retired Jones’ No. 4 jersey during the team’s annual First Pitch banquet. Former Oakland player Mike Carson wore the number last season as a senior, and he, along with Oakland coach John Musachio, presented the jersey to Jones at the banquet.

“It was an honor. I’m just glad to be part of the organization of Oakland baseball. What happened to me, it means a lot to have my jersey number being retired,” Jones said in an interview following the banquet.

Jones was nearly killed as a passenger in a car accident 10 years ago. He was in a coma for three months, and doctors gave him a 1 percent chance at living.

Since then, Jones has surpassed all odds to continue his recovery physically and mentally.

His doctors said that he would never be able to handle college courses again, but Jones graduated from Macomb Community College last year with an associate degree in art, which he now uses in a part-time job at the local YMCA as an art instructor.

Jones also works in the parks and recreation department in Sterling Heights as a stat keeper for baseball and softball leagues for those with special needs.

Staying involved with baseball and the Oakland program has proven to be especially beneficial to Jones’ recovery, according to his mother, Donna Jones.

“During Brad’s accident, the whole team was at the hospital. They were very supportive. It was wonderful,” Donna Jones said. “It was the coach’s idea to retire his number. Every year they hold a first pitch team banquet, so for this year, since the one boy graduated, he thought it would be a good idea to do it.”

Brad Jones goes to physical therapy sessions five days a week to continue to chase down his goal of being able to walk independently. In the meantime, he sometimes uses a cane custom-made from baseball bat manufacturer Louisville Slugger, which is autographed by several members of the Toronto Blue Jays and Detroit Tigers.

Donna Jones said that being an athlete has helped her son keep a positive outlook during his recovery.

“For him, being an athlete at the time, his body was in such good shape that it helped him out a lot, and he’s still very competitive. So he’s used to going to therapy;  it’s like going to practice,” Donna Jones said. “He just has the mental attitude where he stays so positive. He doesn’t like to hear negative things, and once he does, he wants to beat all odds.”

In addition to walking without a cane, one of Brad Jones’ goals is to get back to the baseball diamond. Recently, he swung a plastic bat in a physical therapy session, and his mother hopes that the next step is to continue to practice safely swinging and catching so that he may be able to join a team in the future.

You can reach C & G Sports Writer Thomas Franz at tfranz@candgnews.com or at (586)498-1040.