Duking it out with Adam Jones
Published 11:15 pm Saturday, September 7, 2013
He may be the star centerfielder for the Baltimore Orioles, but against 7-year-old Parker Duke of Suffolk on Thursday, Adam Jones never really had a chance.
Parker won the right to compete against one of his favorite professional baseball players in a doughnut-eating contest back in July, but then it seemed the challenge might not happen this season.
The complication arose over concerns about having Jones eating a bunch of doughnuts before a game, which might hurt his performance.
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But before Thursday’s home match-up against the Chicago White Sox, Jones came through for Parker, deciding it was a great day for a game, so he’d play two.
During the summer, Parker, a devoted Orioles fan, had entered the CareFirst Adam Jones Fan Challenge put on by the Mid-Atlantic Sports Network. The rules asked fans to be creative and challenge Jones to a contest of their own choosing. Parker’s video asking for a doughnut-eating face-off won the poll by more than 400 votes.
It was the second year the Mid-Atlantic Sports Network had held the event, but the first time Jones would be challenged to scarf down food pro athletes are wise to avoid.
“We were kind of walking on eggshells regarding how we were actually going to do this,” said Lindsay Rykiel, social media director of MASN.
But she also realized since Parker is only 7, Jones would not have to eat many doughnuts to make it a competition.
“Adam said, ‘I’m just going to bring a dozen donuts, and we’re going to do this thing,’” Rykiel said.
However, MASN kept it a surprise for Parker and his parents, Eley Duke and Nicole Harrell, who still were under the impression the challenge could not go forward during the season.
“We totally went up there with the idea that they wanted us to come to batting practice and then sit in their suite (for the game),” Eley Duke said. “(Rykiel) said Adam wanted to meet Parker for a few minutes before the game and that he had a little surprise for him.”
Parker’s Thursday started normally at school, where it was hat day. Naturally, he wore his Orioles cap, proving to be the perfect attire for what was coming. His parents dropped by at 10:30 a.m. and mysteriously pulled him out of school, but Parker was on to them.
“‘I know what’s going on,’” Eley Duke recalls him saying. “’We’re going to the Orioles.’”
After arriving at the ballpark, the family went down to the dugout during batting practice.
“We rounded the corner, and there was Adam standing with a box of doughnuts,” Eley Duke said.
Rykiel said the contest “happened in the stairwell of the dugout, which was cool because there were a lot of other players around watching.”
“(Orioles second baseman) Brian Roberts gave a little bit of commentary during the challenge,” she said.
During the course of the contest and his interaction with Jones, “Parker was glowing pretty much the entire time,” Rykiel said.
Parker used one word to describe what he felt when meeting Jones: “Excited.”
The challenge turned more into a race of who could eat a doughnut the fastest.
Each took a doughnut, tapping them together quickly like boxers in the ring, and started, with Parker taking the early lead.
“Then he tried to gain on me,” Parker said of Jones.
“I think that Adam actually taste-tested a few of the doughnuts before the challenge,” Rykiel said, which had filled him up a little bit, and after a few bites he slowed down. Sensing victory in his grasp, Parker said, he took the remainder of his own doughnut “shoved it in my mouth.”
As if the meeting and an autographed baseball was not enough, Jones put on a show for Parker in the White Sox game, hitting his 30th home run of the season in his first at bat, perhaps proving the doughnuts helped his swing.
Rykiel said, “I talked to Parker and Eley right after that had happened, and obviously they took full credit for it, which they should have.”
Jones went 2-for-3 with an RBI as the Orioles won 3-1.
Eley Duke said seeing Parker get to meet Jones “was just really awesome. Parker is a great kid, and I love him so much, and his mom and I are proud of him. It was just a really unbelievable experience and a great memory.”
Nicole Harrell said as Parker left the stadium that night, he said, “Mom, this has been a really cool day.”
Watch the contest at http://www.masnsports.com/orioles_buzz/2013/09/carefirst-adam-jones-fan-challenge.html.