Ruppert Jones was an extremely talented and hard-working baseball player who made it to the major leagues with the Kansas City Royals in 1976. He was soon acquired by the new Seattle Mariners as their number one draft choice when Major League Baseball expanded in 1977. Jones went on to have several fine seasons and was the first Mariner to be selected to the American League All Star Team. He was a tremendous defensive outfielder who had a rare combination of speed and power, but his career was cut short by several injuries that he suffered. The worst of which occurred while playing with the New York Yankees in August 1980 when Jones crashed into the unpadded outfield wall in the Oakland Coliseum trying to chase down a long blast by Tony Armas. The effects of that injury went undiagnosed for many years as Ruppert’s talents deteriorated and his personal life suffered.
But as his title indicated Jones never gave up. He continued to have productive years in baseball, at one point helping the Detroit Tigers to the World Championship in 1984, but his major league career finally ended in 1987. It is at this point that the full importance of this memoir picks up. As Jones’ life spiraled out of control, he desperately searched for answers to the devastating effects of his loss of cognitive functions due to his head injury. To make matters worse he found himself self-medicating with drugs and alcohol.
His memoir then continues as part mystery and part love story as Ruppert searches for answers with his loving wife Betty always at his side. It is a long and difficult journey, but Jones eventually finds answers and begins an effective treatment plan.
What is remarkable about this book is that traumatic brain injury is usually only associated with football. But Jones that is not always the case. He points out that traumatic brain injury can happen in baseball, soccer and many other walks of life and it can be terrible if it is not diagnosed properly and treated effectively. Ruppert Jones’s memoir is call for action to recognize and treat traumatic brain injury and is a testament that with determination and a “never give up” spirit even the worst afflictions can be overcome.
I highly recommend this well-written and inspirational book.