Nate Jones, head groundskeeper for the Triple-A El Paso Chihuahuas (San Diego Padres) and Southwest University Park, passed away on Dec. 5, 2016 at age 24.
According to a report in the El Paso (Texas) Times, Jones died after sustaining injuries following a Nov. 29 traffic accident. The newspaper reported that Jones was involved in a car collision that day, and while he and the other driver in the collision were exchanging information, Jones was hit by an oncoming truck.
“It is incredibly heartbreaking to lose our head groundskeeper, one of our original first-season employees,” Chihuahuas general manager Brad Taylor said in a statement. “We share in the sadness and pain the Jones family is enduring. We are thankful for the overwhelming outpour of support both locally and from friends all over our baseball community.”
Jones, a native of Freeland, Michigan, was named the Chihuahuas head groundskeeper in February of last year. He joined the club’s grounds crew in 2014. He is survived by his parents, Doug and Denise Jones; his sisters, Christy (Noel) Losee, Melissa (Adam) Laurie, Heather (Scott) Litle; his nieces and nephews, Aaron and Lauren Losee, Hayley and Hunter Laurie, and Makayla and Jordyn Litle; his grandmother Phyllis Ahlers and his girlfriend Yari Natal.
“Nate was a special person and a fantastic friend to everyone in our organization, and especially the staff that worked with him,” Alan Ledford, MountainStar Sports president, said in a statement. “He brought a unique passion to his work, and was responsible for creating some wonderful memories for Chihuahuas fans who marvel at the Southwest University Park playing field. We are deeply saddened and will miss Nate immensely.”
A 2013 graduate of Michigan State University’s turfgrass program, Jones had also worked for the Single-A Great Lakes Loons (2009-2011) and Single-A Dayton Dragons (2012). He interned with the Milwaukee Brewers in 2013.
Jones’ colleagues and friends took to Twitter after his death to express their shock and sadness of his passing:
“Rest in Peace, Nate. Our prayers are with the Jones family and the El Paso Chihuahuas organization.” — Auburn University Grounds Crew @AU_Grounds_Crew
“RIP @NateJones you should have been with us much longer. We were all blessed to know you!” — Tom Burns | @gndkpr
“Tough loss this week in El Paso. Nate Jones was an outstanding individual and groundskeeper…” — Luke Yoder | @luke_yoder
“The Reno Aces join the MiLB community in passing along our thoughts & deepest condolences to the El Paso Chihuahuas & Nate Jones family.” — Reno Aces | @Aces