Nate's Nation overtakes GABP for Jones' homecoming
The announced attendance at Great American Ballpark for the July 3 matchup between the Cincinnati Reds and Chicago White Sox was 22,742, and the Pendleton County contingent known as “Nate’s Nation” undoubtedly helped amass that total.
Local fans and followers of the hometown baseball star could be found in all areas of the ballpark ranging from the upper deck to the diamond club section behind home plate, and all points in between decked out in Jones’ jerseys, t-shirts and White Sox caps.
“I’ve enjoyed the entire experience. From the moment we arrived in Cincinnati the night of July 1, I was able to go back home to Pendleton County and sleep in my own bed. The next day I was able to play with my kids and the family went swimming at the Northern Kentucky Golf Club,” said the 32-year-old relief pitcher, now in his seventh season with the White Sox.
“Coming to the ballpark and being able to see so many friends and family is an awesome thing. I’m very grateful to all of the people who have followed my career and even traveled across the country to see me pitch. One particular couple that comes to mind is Jeff and Karen Montgomery from Bracken County. From the very beginning going back 11 years ago when I started pitching in the minors, they scheduled time around their work schedules to come to my games, and it’s great to see them here now,” Jones added.
Prior to the start of the game, Jones could be found interacting with friends and family who were seated near the White Sox bullpen area and also taking time for photos and autographs as dozens of people crammed the front row along third base to get up-close to their favorite major leaguer. It’s that laid back, friendly, small town boy appeal that has adorned him not only with Pendleton County residents but also his teammates as they were glued to the televisions inside the clubhouse prior to taking batting practice watching the World Cup matchup between Colombia and England. The White Sox roster serves as a melting pot of nationalities from around the globe with many of the Latin-born players being heavily-interested in the outcome of the soccer game, and there was Jones; seated front row and center amongst his teammates helping lend support for their team. The only one distinctive item in the clubhouse that clearly allowed him to stand out from his teammates was a pair of his trademark cowboy boots that sat in front of his locker, proving that no matter how far he might be removed from the country...the country will never be removed from him.
Numerous former high school teammates of Jones made the trip to Cincinnati to show support including Brent Yelton, who graduated with Jones from PCHS in 2004 and has remained an avid follower to this day. He wasn’t surprised by the large amount of people who showed up nor has he been surprised by the success Jones has been able to obtain over the years.