Edwin Jackson Still on the Move

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Edwin Jackson was still in diapers when he first moved in.

He was born in Neu-Ulm, Germany, where his father served in the US Army. However, duties changed, and when Jackson was 1, his family moved to Fort Polk, La. At the age of 6 the family moved to Germany for two more years.

“I explained to them that it was my job,” said Edwin Jackson Sr., who served 22 years in the Army. “Suddenly it requires me to pack up and leave. So they were a little prepared and they expected it.”

These expectations prepared the young Jackson for a nomadic existence in Major League Baseball. Last stop for a good 37-year-old ride? He is trying to win a gold medal at the Tokyo Olympics as a bullpen member of the USA team.

Jackson fondly remembers his first experiences overseas: he had German ice cream that didn’t taste much like it did in America and on trips to castles. The 90-minute commute from his family’s duplex-style military home to school in Hesse gave him plenty of time to do his homework.

“It was some kind of drug,” he said from his childhood. But staying in one place was never a possibility. The family’s next stop is in Columbus, Ga., where Jackson Sr. ran the mess hall at Fort Benning before retiring as a first-class sergeant. it happened. Columbus, a consolidated urban borough next to the Chattahoochee River, offered a rare view of stability as young Jackson remained there throughout high school.

After a stellar spin at Shaw High, Jackson was selected by the Los Angeles Dodgers in the sixth round in the 2001 Major League Baseball draft. His tour of service was beginning.

When people meet Jackson, they often ask the same question:

Can you tell me all the teams you played in order?

“I can, but it won’t be quick,” warned Jackson, a 17-year MLB veteran who has played for a record 14 clubs, before listing nearly half of the league’s teams. “LA, Detroit – I mean Tampa Bay!”

The pitcher quickly recovered and gave an excellent result: “Tampa Bay to Detroit. From Detroit to Arizona. From Arizona to the White Sox. From the White Sox to St. to Louis. Louis to DCDC to Chicago. Chicago to Braves. Brave Marlins. From the Marlins to San Diego. San Diego to Baltimore, I think. He returned to the Baltimore Nationals. Nationals to Oakland. From Oakland to Toronto. Toronto to Detroit.”

No one can top this list of organizations in MLB’s comprehensive history books. Jackson is the ultimate navigator of his sport, a legacy he insists his upbringing was “predetermined.”

Dusty Baker, who ran Jackson with the Nationals in 2017 and served in the Marine Corp Reserve, thinks Jackson’s childhood served him well.

“As a military kid, you had to change, you had to meet new friends, you had to break up with old friends, and then you had to be friends with those you just broke up with,” Baker said. “This is laying the groundwork for this lifetime.”

Jackson’s major league journey began with the Dodgers on September 9, 2003, i.e. his 20th birthday. As a converted outfielder who was then Baseball America’s No. 4 nominee, he outstripped future Hall of Famer Randy Johnson in his debut.

“This probably threw him out unfairly because he wasn’t ready for all this,” said Angels Manager Joe Maddon, who coached Jackson at the Rays and the Cubs.

Despite Jackson’s hasty progress, when he was deployed to right-handed Tampa Bay in 2006, Maddon thought he had the “new Bob Gibson” in hand. Jackson would go on to form an All-Star team with Detroit in 2009. 149 pitches without a hitter with Arizona in 2010 and St. He won a World Series championship with Louis. Regardless, he never quite lived up to the high expectations that followed him to the majors.

A career record of 107-133 and a 4.78 ERA led to six trades and several releases as clubs were “frustrated because they couldn’t predict talent,” Maddon said.

“This guy still has a golden arm,” Baker added. “I can’t understand why he’s been on so many teams. He’s never had a problem, nothing. Some guys are just like journeymen.”

Growing up in a comfortable home despite his father’s military service, Jackson learned to let go. He saw every new destination as an opportunity to leave a positive mark and appreciated the diversity that comes with every new clubhouse and community.

“Those who can adjust can continue to thrive in life,” Jackson said. He added that those who don’t will be “stuck in the swamp.”

“Who,” he asked, “has a great story?”

Jackson wasn’t sure if the USA team would accept the invitation to play at these Olympics, but his wife Erika justified him.

A free agent, Jackson last appeared in the majors in 2019. He was hitting the ball and keeping fit in the mid-90s. But after receiving and rejecting just one “super, super low” spring training invitation this year, he wasn’t sure about relocating again.

“Are you crazy? This is the opportunity of a lifetime,” said his wife, who is also an Air Force veteran who grew up in the military. “This isn’t MLB, this is the Olympics!

“If you don’t, you’ll regret it.”

These words prompted Jackson to accept the offer, and he eventually described the playoffs as “one of the funniest games I’ve had in baseball in a long time.”

But the trek to Tokyo has potential for more than just fun. It is also an opportunity for representation.

Jackson comes from a foreign-born, multi-generational military family and is a Black baseball player at a time when this demographic is in decline. His ability to make an impact at the Olympics wasn’t lost on secretary Jackson. Players Alliance or his family – especially after years when sport and the armed forces have come face-to-face over race and social justice issues.

“I don’t just want to represent the country, I want to represent my African American friends who play this baseball game,” said Jackson, who grew up watching Braves stars like Andruw Jones, Fred McGriff, David Justice, Otis Nixon, and Brian. Jordan. “I want to impress a young African American player who has never played baseball before. They look at me and say, ‘Damn, maybe I can be like him.

It means a lot to his father that Jackson is playing for the USA team.

“For me as a serving parent to my country, I think it coincided with his going there,” Jackson Sr. said. “Serving His Country”

Jackson said winning gold in Tokyo would be “Crème de la Crème” or “The best ending a story has ever had,” but he didn’t give up on a potential return to the majors.

Any chance he gets with a major league team should be good for him and his family. Jackson and his wife passed on their itinerant lifestyle to their children — Exavier, 9; Elan, 7; and Elijah, 3 – allowing them to see cities across the country while developing the same social skills that parents did when they were younger.

“They were some soldiers,” Jackson said, remembering how coming to his side helped him get through his worst days on the mound, especially when he lost 33 games in his first two years with the Cubs. Therefore, as the pandemic continues and so many moves are already under their belts, Jackson will not jump to any proposals.

Of course, a team needs to take care of it. But players who have seen Jackson throw in lately claim he still has major league items.

“It looks electric,” said Todd Frazier, one of the well-known veterans of the USA team.

Team USA manager Mike Scioscia added: “Don’t worry about what your age says. His body is like a 26-year-old.”

Others are surprised that Jackson is still shooting at such a high level after all the jumps he’s made.

“That tells me he’s not giving up,” said Octavio Dotel, who played for 13 teams from 1999 to 2013 and was Jackson’s predecessor as the most traveled major league player. “Still fighting.”

Some, like Maddon, attribute Jackson’s enduring strength to his “compatibility” and “relevant” personality. “People still want to be around him in this game,” the manager said. “He never burned a bridge to the point where it was not considered.”

Others point to his determination.

“It’s hard to get into the big leagues,” said Scott Kazmir, Jackson’s teammate in Tampa Bay and Tokyo. “It’s even harder to stay there. Having that determination and going through so many challenges and still having this drive to be in the big leagues and try to get better every day is not something that everyone has.”

Jackson’s time with the USA team will kick off in earnest with a game against Israel on Friday, which will give him a chance to show what he has left. But he knows better than to plan. If teams come and call, great. If not, he may find satisfaction in the fact that the last stop of his traveling career allowed him to play in a country he traveled so well.

“I’m currently walking on a trail and eventually going to a split,” Jackson says. “No matter what split, I will go without losing a step or a step.

“I’ll smile either way.”

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