Quintin Berry is early. He strolls into Jerry Remy's Sports Bar & Grill on Boylston Street in Boston at 12:55 p.m., wearing a Batman T-shirt and a pea coat on what is the first legitimately chilly fall day in the Northeast. At 1:01, he texts his best friend, Adam Jones.
"Yo, where you at?"
Jones replies immediately, "Quit yelling. I'll be there in 15."
Jones may be late for this 1 p.m. lunch date, but he was first to arrive to the only party that matters for these two: the Major Leagues.
Jones and Berry grew up together in Southeast San Diego, an area wedged between Lemon Grove and Logan Heights that proves Southern California isn't made up of only beaches and sunshine. Southeast can be rough, gangs are prevalent, and life is often anything but easy.
But Jones and Berry had each other, and they had baseball.
On the rooftop terrace at Remy's, with the iconic green facade of Fenway Park at their backs, the two reminisce about old times and marvel at how far they've come.
Jones' grandmother lived down the street from Berry's family, and when they met and became fast friends as 7-year-olds at Webster Elementary, Jones began having regular sleepovers at the Berry's. He shared a room with Quintin, and Jones thinks of Rhonda Berry as his second mom. They'd play football in the yard, video games in the house and sneak into the high school and play hide-and-seek on the roof.
At Samuel B. Morse High, Jones was a right-handed shortstop and pitcher and Berry was a speedy left-handed outfielder. The road to the big leagues was far easier for Jones, who was selected out of high school by the Seattle Mariners with the 37th overall pick of the 2003 First-Year Player Draft.
"The last pick of the first round," Jones is quick to point out. "But it's still the first round."
Berry played four years at San Diego State, then bounced around the Minors for seven years, playing with five organizations. Each offseason, he and Jones would work out together in San Diego, pushing each other to be better than the year before. Their friendship grew along with their skill and their muscles. Berry made Jones the best man in his wedding, then godfather to his son, Kameron.
Last May, Berry finally got his Major League callup from the Detroit Tigers. That same week, Jones signed a six-year, $85.5 million extension with the Orioles, but Berry's news was the bigger highlight. The two had always dreamed of playing against each other in the big leagues, and in July, they'd get the chance.
"When I got called up by Detroit in May, all I wanted to do was make it long enough to play against Adam in Baltimore," Berry said. "I did that, and a little more."
Last July, Baltimore hosted Detroit at Camden Yards, and the family and friends of both players flew in for the festivities.
Berry, who was claimed off waivers by the Royals in June and dealt to the Red Sox in August, spent most of the season at Triple-A, but he once again has his sights set on the World Series.
Berry was called up by the postseason-bound Red Sox in early September, while Jones' Orioles have dropped out of contention for an American League Wild Card spot. Still, the O's and Red Sox will finish the season with three games against each other in Baltimore this weekend.
Regardless of the playoff implications, the games will have added significance for Jones and Berry. Each will be able to look across the field at the other.
The two little buddies from San Diego dreamed big, grew up and made good.
Lindsay Berra is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.