‘This Is Dalton Jones’

Last Friday, I received a surprise call at my UMass Lowell office. I was in a meeting off campus, so was not there to pick up the phone. Later in the day, I got an email message explaining what had happened and telling me to check the voicemail.

I joined the Facebook universe in January 2011. That spring, when baseball season came around, for fun I changed my Profile picture on Facebook (for non-users, that’s the one that identifies you on all your postings). I put up an image of a Topps baseball card from 1965. It was Dalton Jones, the infielder with the beautiful left-handed swing who played for the Red Sox in the mid-1960s. The card is shown above. He was my favorite player. He wasn’t a superstar, but he was a great contributor to the team. As my friend Jack Neary said recently, “He got a lot of big hits in 1967.”

I played baseball for Dracut High School for four years. I wasn’t a regular starter. I played shortstop, second base, and wherever I could help. I was a much better hitter in neighborhood games and in pick-up softball later in my life, but I held my own in high school—one time broke up a no-hitter with two outs in the last inning in Billerica. In 1965,  when I was 11 years old, my favorite Red Sox player was Dalton Jones. He batted .389 in the 1967 World Series, playing third base in games one through four. He was 7 for 18 with a .421 on-base percentage in the Series. Boston lost to St. Louis, as we all recall. I remember a newspaper cartoon the day after the series showing a sad kid in a Red Sox cap who had scrawled these words on a wall: “Julian Javier is a Jerk” (you have to say it with the j’s as h’s)—Javier was the Cardinals’ shortstop. Dalton was such a good prospect coming out of high school that the Red Sox asked another great left-handed hitter to recruit him: Ted Williams.

When my Facebook and real-life friend Bill Lipchitz saw Dalton Jones on my Facebook page, he wrote to me and said you probably don’t know this but Meredith Fife Day went to high school with Dalton Jones in Louisiana around 1960. Bill said she still talks to him and visits when she goes back to her hometown. Meredith has been the artist-in-residence at the Whistler House Museum of Art for several years. One of her paintings hangs in my family’s living room. Bill is a friend of Meredith’s, so he told her about Dalton and me. Meredith wrote to me and said it was great to hear, and that she would tell her baseball-playing friend that he had a big fan in Lowell. She said Dalton was expected to attend the Fenway Park centennial celebration in April 2012. As it turned out, he was not able to get to Boston this spring.

Imagine my surprise and happiness when I listened to the voicemail message last week.

“Hi Paul. This is Dalton Jones. I’m sitting here with a good friend, Meredith, and we’re talking about you. Sorry I didn’t get through to you. She’s going to bring back a couple of things for you. Goodbye.”

Artist Meredith Fife Day in Paris.

12 Responses to ‘This Is Dalton Jones’

  1. DickH says:

    Thanks, Paul, for sharing this story. We 50-somethings from Lowell all remember that 1967 team very well. About a dozen years ago, Rico Petrocelli came to Lowell to be Grand Marshall of the City of Lights parade on Thanksgiving Weekend. When I had a chance to speak to him, I said his catching the pop-up to end the last game of the regular season vs the Twins was one of my greatest memories in baseball. He replied, “Mine, too.”

    From memory I think I can name most of the team: 1B – George Scott; 2B – Mike Andrews; SS – Petrocelli; 3B – Joe Foy (was he hurt during the World Series?); LF – Carl Yastrzemski; CF – Reggie Smith; RF – Tony Conigliaro/Ken Harrelson; C – Mike Ryan/Elston Howard/Norm Sieburn. Subs – Dalton Jones, Gerry Adair, Jose Tartabul. Pitchers: Jim Lonberg, John Wyatt, Sparky Lyle, – I’m drawing a blank on the rest.

  2. Greg Page says:

    Awesome story, and it’s worth bringing this up anytime people raise the question about whether social media interactions come at the expense of “real” ones.

    As a few of this blog’s writers have pointed out here (and in person!) one doesn’t come at the other’s expense. The online stuff often creates the forum and the context for people to make connections that they then take into the tangible world. Overall social capital is raised — the entire pie gets bigger.

    Take Facebook out of this story, and Bill probably wouldn’t have gotten a chance to piece together the two Dalton Jones fans that he knew.

    Same thing with Marjorie A-B’s post about the overturned rape conviction of the football star in Southern California. No Facebook (or equivalent forum), and no likely re-connection of the accuser and the convicted “criminal.”

  3. Dan Murphy says:

    Great story. I’m only 30, but my parents had a vinyl record of “the Impossible Dream” which I listened to as a kid, pre-cassette era (at least in our house.)

  4. Bill says:

    That’s great Paul. I’m glad I could make the connection. I was a big fan of the 1967 team as well, including Dalton Jones. One of my favorite memories is weak-armed center fielder Jose Tartabull throwing out White Sox speedster Ken Berry at home. That was when I thought the Red Sox had a chance to win the pennant.

  5. Kosta says:

    This is another example of “nearly everything has a Lowell connection”. I love this one.

  6. Tony says:

    Dalton Jones was my favorite player also during the 67 pennant run. Jack Neary is right…Talk about a clutch player.

  7. tom says:

    I was a Dalton Jones fan, too, for some reason!
    I was a second baseman, and Dalton ( what a great first name ) was the guy I saw most often in those days it seems playing the position.
    I think of him when I see Mike Aviles currently wearing his number…it should’ve been retired!
    Also glad to know that I am not alone in lingering over these great memories.

  8. billy sheehan says:

    another -sub on that team was pitcher–Gary Bell, jones was discovered by

    Ted Williiams playing ball in Louisiana, williams told the red sox about him

    and they went out and signed him.

  9. Marie says:

    Love this story Paul! For those of you at Lowell High School during that ’67 series… it so captured our minds and hearts that we listened to one of the games on radio during a study hall.

  10. Jim O'Loughlin says:

    Hard to believe that someone else had Dalton Jones as a favorite player! THE clutch pinch hitter in 1967. I was an 11 year old kid at the last game of the 67 season with my Dad and two cousins. Jim Lonborg versus Dean Chance, remember it like it was yesterday. Lonborg’s bunt single, Yaz going 4-4, Jones playing 3rd, and everyone rushing onto the field at the end of the game. Not us, my father had a death grip on me and was very clear that WE would not be running onto the field!

  11. dave perry says:

    Hey, Paul:
    Do you know anyone who went to school with Willie Mays? If so, you have my info.