R-Phils to help pay respects with Celebration of Life
Paul “Cooter” Jones spent his entire life deeply entrenched in the sport of baseball. He made an incredible impact on the game both in the youth and professional divisions. But no place was touched more than Reading, Pennsylvania. Cooter played professional baseball in Reading throughout the 1950’s when the team was still affiliated with the Indians, he coached a state championship team at Reading High School, and countless times he was fulfilling press box duties to help the game run smoothly. Not only that, Jones was a staple in the community, achieving legendary status when he was announced King of Baseballtown, solidifying his place forever.
Born in North Carolina, Jones was an impressive high school standout. In 1952 he was selected by the Cleveland Indians and soon signed a contract. He spent most of his career playing in Reading where he amassed numerous accolades as the career home run leader, a record that stood for 40 years, and two-time Eastern League All-Star. Jones held his own when he played with all-time greats like the well-known Rocky Colavito.
After his retirement from Minor League Baseball, Cooter chose to settle down with his family right here in Reading. The city had everything he was looking for and so he made it home. After spending some time as a Physical Education teacher, Cooter made his way into the Reading Athletic Department. While he coached a few sports, baseball quickly became his priority. His determination and passion coupled with his old school baseball style; players found success under Cooter. He led multiple teams to league championships but took the 1983 team all the way to win the prestigious PIAA State Title. Eventually, Cooter was nominated into the Reading Baseball Hall of Fame.
Former players noted how much they looked up to him. “There was nothing more special than the speech he gave when he retired,” said longtime R-Phils employee & Reading High Baseball alum Matt Jackson. “I was privileged enough to be in the locker room and hear how important to him this part of his life was. It’s something I’ll never forget.”
From there Jones transitioned into the operations side of the game. He worked as the scoreboard operator and PA Announcer for Reading basketball and football. But nothing ever stopped him from coming home to America’s Classic Ballpark. Cooter worked as an official scorer at FirstEnergy Stadium for over 15 years. He stood by his calls and was proud of his acumen when it came to the game. Other press box staff would marvel at his sharp mind and would listen closely as he referenced all kinds of stats and knowledge. More than that, Cooter shared amazing anecdotes from his playing career.
In 2004, Paul “Cooter” Jones was crowned as the King of Baseballtown for his accomplishments and contributions to the Baseballtown Community. Jones has had an impact on both baseball and this town ever since he first stepped foot in it, so it was only natural for the second annual award to be bestowed upon him.
No matter what, Cooter showed up. From his baseball days to time within the local community, Cooter made everyone feel like family. While he always had a story to share, he would look to others to see how they were doing. He was caring and devoted and always remained loyal to his family, friends, and his home of Reading.
R-Phils Executive Director of Operations, Kevin Sklenarik remembers Cooter fondly. “We used to talk on the phone every month,” Sklenarik said. “He would tell me, “No matter how old I get as long as I can get to the ballpark, I will.””
And he did just that.
The family of Mr. Jones would like to take some time to remember their loved one with all those who appreciated and admired him. On Thursday, April 22nd, beginning at 5p.m. FirstEnergy Stadium will host a Celebration of the Life of Cooter Jones. Those who wish to come to the ballpark to pay their respects are encouraged to do so.
Paul “Cooter” Jones was the ultimate “baseball guy” He had a fiery passion for the sport – and for life- and even though he has passed on, that warmth and fervor will live on in the Reading community.