Columbus High baseball player Al Jones will take part in the first of two national all-star games on Sunday.
The first, the Perfect Game All-American Classic, will be played at 8 p.m. at Petco Park in San Diego, the second, the Under Armour All-American Game, on Aug. 16 at Wrigley Field in Chicago.
“I’m really excited,” Jones said earlier this week. “I’m just trying not to think about the stage. I just want to enjoy my trip and my experience.”
While both games will be played in front of a large contingent of college and professional scouts, Jones said he isn’t looking at it as an opportunity to catch their attention.
Instead, it’s just a chance to play baseball against some of the best high school competition across the country.
“I don’t feel much pressure,” he said. “My faith in God just helps me to focus and relax when it’s time to play. I’m not worried about the results. I just know if I give 100-percent effort, what happens will happen.”
It’ll be a wild week and a half for the rising senior, who arrived in San Diego on Thursday. There would be preparations for the game, the first game itself and then he’d fly home Monday and to Chicago on Wednesday.
“It’s just a blessing,” he said. “I haven’t really had enough time to soak it all in. It’s definitely an honor and I’m very grateful for both of my parents who have given so much to help me play baseball.”
The part Jones was most looking forward to was a visit to Rady Children’s Hospital in San Diego. He and the other athletes would have a chance to meet with kids who were getting treatment at the hospital.
Each player was given a goal of $2,000 to raise to donate to cancer research at the hospital. Jones was able to accomplish the goal through posts on social media and the help from more than a handful of generous friends and family.
“I’m just excited for the visit to the hospital,” he said. “We’ll be hanging out, talking with the kids. It’s a blessing.”
In San Diego, Jones and the other athletes will also have lunch at former San Diego Padres great Trevor Hoffman’s beach house. Hoffman is a board member for the game.
Jones was one of 54 selected for the Perfect Game classic and one of just 38 for the Under Armour game.