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Monday, August 19, 2019

Al Jackson, an original Met, dead at 83

Al Jackson, a tough left-hander who provided a rare glint of hope in the early days of the woebegone Mets, has died at 83.

His death was announced by the Mets, for whom he worked for 50 years as a pitcher, major league coach, minor league pitching coordinator and front-office adviser. He died Monday at a nursing home in Port St. Lucie, Florida, after a long illness.

The Mets said in a statement it would be “impossible to calculate the number of players and staff he touched and influenced during his career.”

Jackson pitched in the majors for 10 seasons, and no season was more challenging than the one in 1962 when the expansion Mets entered the majors and lost 120 games. “Little” Al Jackson, although he was 5-foot-10, had a record of 8-20 and 4.40 ERA. The next two years he went 13-17 and 11-16.

RoyalsRetro (AG#1F) Posted: August 19, 2019 at 09:56 PM | 13 comment(s) Login to Bookmark
  Tags: al jackson, mets, obituaries

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   1. Howie Menckel Posted: August 19, 2019 at 10:10 PM (#5872759)
had a cup of coffee or two with the 1969 Mets as well, before being released.
   2. vortex of dissipation Posted: August 20, 2019 at 01:58 AM (#5872784)
I just read his SABR bio, and it's already been updated to include the news of his passing.
   3. The usual palaver and twaddle (Met Fan Charlie) Posted: August 20, 2019 at 09:15 AM (#5872807)
Al was a Mets lifer. That's pretty rare. R.I.P., Little AL.
   4. Spahn Insane Posted: August 20, 2019 at 09:22 AM (#5872810)
Al was a Mets lifer.

Does this have a meaning I'm not familiar with? Jackson pitched for teams besides the Mets.
   5. The usual palaver and twaddle (Met Fan Charlie) Posted: August 20, 2019 at 10:01 AM (#5872829)
Does this have a meaning I'm not familiar with? Jackson pitched for teams besides the Mets.

I mean, mostly. Every time he went to work for another organization, he always had a job in Queens waiting for him.

I consider Rusty & Mookie the same way.

   6. snapper (history's 42nd greatest monster) Posted: August 20, 2019 at 10:02 AM (#5872831)
   7. Pasta-diving Jeter (jmac66) Posted: August 20, 2019 at 11:22 AM (#5872863)
his 8-20 record in 1962 was worth 2.9 WAR. On the same staff, Roger Craig's 10-24 was worth 3.0
   8. The usual palaver and twaddle (Met Fan Charlie) Posted: August 20, 2019 at 11:41 AM (#5872869)
From the great Greg Prince at Faith and Fear in Flushing...

All burdensome things must come to an end, and for Al Jackson, carrying the burden of the early Mets to the mound every few days stopped being his responsibility on October 20, 1965, when he and Charley Smith were traded to St. Louis for Ken Boyer. An era in New York Mets baseball was over.

A larger one, however, wouldn’t end until August 19, 2019, because, save for a few wardrobe changes, Al Jackson remained part of the Mets family for the rest of his life. Maybe not while he pitched a couple of years for the Cardinals — before being traded back to the Mets in advance of 1968; nor during that portion of 1969 when he was exiled to the Reds — getting squeezed from a pitching staff that dripped with youthful vitality on a team just starting to realize it was no longer destined to lose into perpetuity; and probably not amidst a couple of fairly brief coaching stops in the American League.

But for the rest of his life, Al Jackson was a Met. A Met lifer. He might have invented the concept, really. Not only did he endure through those perfectly dreadful incubator years, but he came back and he stayed. As a pitching instructor. As a minor league manager. As Bobby Valentine’s bullpen coach across a pair of postseasons. As a guru on the art of getting ahead of hitters. As a mentor to too many to accurately count. He made a home of the Mets.

Part of the Mets family? More like the heart of the Mets family. Until a stroke sidelined him in 2015, this distinguished denizen of Port St. Lucie was a staple of the Met spring, summer and winter, literally a Met for all seasons. Fantasy campers shook his hand. Grapefruit Leaguers asked if he wouldn’t mind posing for a picture. Freshly signed students of the game with an eye on advancing up the chain absorbed what he had to tell them if they were serious about plying their craft. Periodically, Shea Stadium and Citi Field would be graced by his presence, too.

The last time we saw Al in Queens was the last time the Mets inducted one of their greats into their Hall of Fame, September 29, 2013. Mike Piazza was going in. The family was out in force. Working in reverse-chronological order of their initial appearances as Mets, Mike was shepherded into franchise immortality by Edgardo Alfonzo, John Franco, Dwight Gooden, Keith Hernandez, Mookie Wilson, Rusty Staub, Ed Charles, Bud Harrelson, Ed Kranepool and Al Jackson. An Amazin’ group, to be sure, but it was who Al got to the Mets first and it was Al who remained a Met the longest.

Al Jackson always could be counted on to start things that would last.
   9. Spahn Insane Posted: August 20, 2019 at 11:51 AM (#5872874)

   10. Colonel Samuel B. Sternwheeler Posted: August 20, 2019 at 12:19 PM (#5872886)
You have to be a really good pitcher to be a twenty game loser.

RIP, Al.
   11. Eric L Posted: August 20, 2019 at 12:37 PM (#5872893)
I remember my 1966 yearbook. He had every franchise pitching record worth having.
   12. DanG Posted: August 20, 2019 at 01:02 PM (#5872899)
You have to be a really good pitcher to be a twenty game loser.
Mike Maroth in 2003 is the only one since 1981.
   13. The Duke Posted: August 20, 2019 at 02:50 PM (#5872943)
#10. That will be on his gravestone

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