Buck O'Neil Legacy seat holder spent decades connect the deaf with baseball

Posted at 3:26 PM, Oct 14, 2014
and last updated 2014-10-14 17:55:18-04

Just hours before one of the biggest nights of his life, James "JJ" Jones stopped by the Negro Leagues Museum to honor the man who made it happen -- the man whose seat he'll be sitting in Tuesday night.

"I can't wait to sit in Buck O'Neil's seat tonight," Jones said. "I've got goose bumps.  Wow."

His journey to the Buck O'Neil seat started when he was just three years old, when his parents discovered he was deaf. With special schooling, he made his way to college where his mission became clear.

"I had so many good deaf college professors and now it's time to pay back to deaf children," Jones said.

For nearly 30 years, he's coached at the Johnson County Sertoma Fantasy Sports Camp, a baseball camp for deaf children in the Kansas City area. It has since expanded to include soccer and lacrosse.

"It's a joy. It's heartwarming. Heartfelt," Jones explained. "It's rewarding to be a good role model."

Along the way he met and eventually became friends with Buck O'Neil.

"Buck O'Neil has the heart. He loves people. Loves everybody. Everybody loves Buck O'Neil," Jones said.  

When he sits in his seat tonight, he hopes it will send a message -- that anyone can accomplish anything.

"To all my deaf children, deaf youth. Believe in yourself," Jones advised. "You can be anything you want to be. Go.  Reach your dreams."

You can learn how to nominate someone for the Buck O'Neil Legacy seat on the Royals website. You can learn more about the Fantasy Sports Camp Johnson County Sertoma site.