A Welcome Relief
Durable Mike Jackson Anchored Bullpens for 17 Seasons
By CRAIG MUDER
December 18, 2009
COOPERSTOWN, N.Y. -- Mike Jackson spent most of his career as a setup man, toiling anonymously in front of closers like Rod Beck and Jose Mesa.
But when it came time to step into the spotlight, Jackson proved more than ready.
|Mike Jackson is one of 26 players on the BBWAA ballot for the Class of 2010 at the Hall of Fame.|
Jackson is one of 26 players on the 2010 Baseball Writers’ Association of America ballot for the Class of 2010 at the National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum. Jackson is making his debut on the BBWAA ballot.
BBWAA members who have at least 10 years of tenure with the organization can vote in the election, and the results will be announced Jan. 6. Any candidate who receives at least 75 percent of all BBWAA vote cast will be enshrined in the Hall of Fame as part of the Class of 2010. The Induction Ceremony will be held July 25 in Cooperstown.
Jackson, born Dec. 22, 1964, in Houston, Texas, was a second-round draft pick of the Phillies in 1984. He made his big league debut with the Phillies in 1986 before becoming a fulltime reliever in 1988 after he was traded to the Mariners. In four years with Seattle, Jackson averaged almost 66 games per season while striking out 78 batters per campaign with a slider that was among baseball’s best.
“I never put pressure on myself,” Jackson said. “There is no situation that I haven’t been accustomed to and pitched in.”
Jackson moved to the Giants in 1992, where he established himself as one of baseball’s best eighth-inning relievers – leading the National League in appearances in 1993 with 81. After bouncing to Cincinnati and back to Seattle, Jackson joined Cleveland in 1997 and had 15 saves in 71 appearances while helping the Indians reach the World Series. Pitching in 13 of Cleveland’s 18 postseason games that year, Jackson went 1-0 with a 0.68 earned-run average.
“He pretty much ran the string out and faced as many hitters as he could,” said former Indians pitching coach Mark Wiley. “I don’t think there’s a better competitor on the mound than Jackson.”
In 1998 and 1999, Jackson became Cleveland’s closer, notching 79 saves over two seasons. He signed a lucrative free agent deal with the Phillies prior to the 2000 season, but did not pitch in a single game due to a shoulder injury that required surgery.
Jackson pitched three more big league seasons, ending his 17-year career with the White Sox in 2004. The final numbers: 62-67, a 3.42 ERA, 142 saves and 1,005 appearances – 12th-best all-time.
“I’ve always been one of the guys ready to compete,” Jackson said, “regardless of the circumstances.”
Craig Muder is the director of communications for the National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum