Mike Jackson, Minnesota Twins

New Team, Same Man
by Doug Greengard

Mike Jackson, former Indians closer.

When Mike Jackson steps onto the mound, he is focused on keeping his best pitches in the strike zone. In his walk with the Lord, the Minnesota Twins pitcher is always reminded to stay out of a different kind of zone-the one that keeps him comfortable. "The Bible talks about how God told Abraham he was going to be the father of many nations and told him to get out of his country," Jackson said. "He had to get out of a place where he felt comfortable around all his family members and he had to go somewhere he's never been."

Jackson, in his 17th Major League season, has had his share of Abraham-like experiences. Playing for his fourth team in as many years, the veteran right-hander has come to appreciate the opportunities to share his faith in Jesus Christ with new teammates. "I know that coming here was all part of God's plan to take this team to another level spiritually," said Jackson, who is the 13th player in Major League history to pitch in 900 games. "I know I'm here to be a light to this team and I know God gives me the strength everyday to come here and be a light."

During his lengthy big league career, Jackson has played for eight different teams. His best season was with Cleveland in 1998, when Jackson ranked among the American League leaders in saves (40), average with runners in scoring position (1.55) and opponents batting average (.195).

While Jackson has enjoyed great success in baseball, the same could not have always been said about his personal life. That changed in 1991 when, ashamed of the way he was living his life, he accepted a teammate's invitation to accept Jesus Christ as his Lord and Savior. "Before, when I wasn't saved, my purpose was to go out and be a baseball player. I thought that was what Mike Jackson was all about," he added. "But I found out there's a Lord and a Savior who loves me and cares for me and cares for people. He gave me a direction and a purpose for life, not to be selfish but to think about others. Once you find that living water, that everlasting peace that God gives you, you won't be looking for any thing else. He satisfies all of our needs."

Nowadays, Jackson's best pitch comes when he is away from the mound.

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