In listing the elements that have contributed to his success, Jones gives effusive credit to his family. This evening he takes a friend to his folks' home in southeast Portland for dinner. The house contains a dark brown dachshund, a strawberry-blonde cat and a grand piano, the last for the use of Jones' remarkably youthful-appearing mother, Dorothy. Hobart (always called Hobe) and Dorothy Jones' youngest, daughter Kristie, is a junior and 400-meter runner at Marshall High. Bart, a year older than Dan, is at Oregon State. Hobe is a chemicals salesman for the Wilbur-Ellis Company and was the 1951 Big 7 indoor 880 champion at Nebraska. Now, dressed in a red flannel shirt, he expresses curiosity about what might be in a letter the Seattle Mariners have sent Dan. "There have been some pro scouts by to weigh and measure and try to determine whether he has much of an IQ," Hobe says. "Might this be some small return on our investment?"
The envelope contains a flyer advertising season tickets. "Patience," says Dan, almost relieved, "is a virtue."
Dan's parents recall their dutiful travel to away games and scenes such as Dan getting hit so hard after a key catch against Southern Oregon that, when he regained his wits on the bench, he had to be told the tackier had been removed on a stretcher. "You broke his arm on your ribs," a teammate said.
For years, dating back to when Dan was in grade school, the elder Jones ran what amounted to a taxi and catering service for him. "On Tuesdays and Fridays during his junior year at Marshall he had basketball games," says Hobe. "On Wednesdays and Thursdays he had basketball practice after school, and then he'd eat a sandwich in the car on the way to hockey practice. Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays he had hockey games."
Hobe is sensitive to the question of exactly where a parent's duty lies with such a demented son. "We watched for his coming apart or his grades starting to drop, but he seemed to just feed on all that activity. He never seemed to get tired. It was always us who got tired."
Dan Jones sits near the window in his Behavior and Organizations class. His toughest professor, Michael F. Flanagan, in a Pendleton shirt and wire-rimmed glasses, is making assertions about the future of the workplace in developed countries. "In no job do you determine your own fate," he says. "We work in groups. Because of advancing technology the emphasis on specialists will inevitably grow." At this, the generalist in the audience grins.
It is a two-hour class, with a break in the middle, for which Jones is grateful. Out in a breezeway he says, "One of the problems of my approach is I don't seem able to concentrate on one thing for a long time. I'm always switching."
"Is it the sports that have made you that way, or your nature?" he's asked.
"More me, I'm sure."
Later, Flanagan is asked to address the issue of specialization in higher education. "I'm a big believer in excellence," he says. "Excellence requires specialization. But I can find no fault with Dan Jones' classroom performance. I've never thought of him as an athlete, so it's never crossed my mind that he might be compromising his academics for one sport, let alone three."