Crawford Jones: from gridiron to the diamond

Crawford Jones: from gridiron to the diamond
August 20, 2013, 3:00 pm
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Crawford Jones goes from college QB to broadcaster

From left to right: Robert Ford, Crawford Jones and Steve Sparks in the Astros radio booth at Minute Maid Park. Ford and Sparks are the team's radio broadcasters.

For most of his college career, Crawford Jones was a backup quarterback for the Houston Cougars.

But after winning the Astros’ “You Make the Call” radio apprentice contest in the summer of 2012, he was able to enjoy his senior year of football even more.

“Having a job before you graduate, it took a lot of the pressure off my senior year – just kind of getting to enjoy it, enjoy football and soak in all those final moments of being a college student, being a student athlete, getting to really enjoy that, this really helped that transition,” Jones said.

Jones would end his college football career on a high note when he started at quarterback in his very last two games in place of the injured David Piland. In his second to last game, he threw for 316 yards and five touchdowns in a 44-41 loss. In the last game of his career and the final one at Robertson Stadium before it was torn down for a new facility in 2014, Jones threw for 368 yards and two touchdowns in a 40-17 win.

“Starting the last game at Robertson Stadium was absolutely a dream come true,” Jones said. “If I had to write a script for my life, I couldn’t have written it any better.”

But now Jones is living another dream.

A former business major, his father convinced him to visit a local television station during one of his Christmas breaks in college.

“I was reluctant to go honestly, but I went and I just loved it – the whole thing,” Jones said. “I thought it was really cool to see how many different intricate parts of where to make a show go on and we both walked out and thought it was pretty much the coolest thing we have been to besides a football game. I kind of got that same rush that I got on a football field.”

Jones returned from break and immediately changed his major to broadcast journalism. He has interned with a local Houston TV station and a sports talk radio station. It was there at SportsTalk 790 where fellow interns convinced him to enter the Astros contest.

After making it through several rounds of competition that included player and fan interviews, a three-inning stint on the radio broadcast and fan voting, Jones came out on top.

And he has hit the ground running, literally.

“I run a ton during the games,” Jones said. “I put one of those odometers on me just to see how much I’m moving on average – I’ve been walking six to seven miles per game.”

Jones’ game day routine starts with him arriving at Minute Maid Park four to five hours before first pitch. 

“I like to come in with a couple questions. I interview fans before and during the game,” Jones said. “I also like to do my own play-by-play play for a couple innings when I can. I’ll interview players, come talk to radio guys to see if they need anything, go eat at media dining, which is one of my personal favorite parts, pregame meeting with ballpark entertainment to see where I’ll be throughout the game, see where all my reads are, see how much I have to run throughout the game.”

All that running is worth it to Jones as he enjoys his favorite part of the job.

“Just getting to talk to the fans and the players, and I still get to feel part of a team doing this.”

But this has been his favorite moment so far.

“That whole opening day was one of the coolest things I’ve been a part of,” Jones said. “That whole rebranding thing with the new look, the new team, the new manager, getting to interview JJ Watt throwing out the first pitch, and then getting to be out here in front of 43,000 people. My first read I was in the upper deck talking to a guy and my hands are sweating I’m nervous. Fortunately I got through it. I don’t think I did too terribly.”

And of course Jones is a sponge just trying to soak it all in.

“Crawford comes into the booth every day with a great attitude and I think that’s where it starts,” Astros radio broadcaster Steve Sparks said. “He wants to learn. He’s actually very talented and we enjoy having him in there because he asks great questions and we ask questions from him.”

“We basically help him out with some of the questions he asks in interviews,” Astros radio broadcaster Robert Ford said. “He’s always asking questions so it makes it easy to give him advice. When you have someone like that it makes it a lot more fun to be around them.”

“I know it sounds so cliché but honestly ‘be yourself’ is the best advice I’ve gotten,” Jones said.

Jones has enjoyed being in front of the camera, but says his first love is still radio.

“I’d like to do this for a few more seasons and ideally I’d like to do a morning sports talk radio or do some play-by-play like these guys,” Jones said. “So trying to work my way into both those, I try to talk to everybody I can and just learn and pick everybody’s brain and learn as much as I can.”