Relief for Indian's Mike Jackson

by Staff Writer

Mike Jackson has long been one of the best relief pitchers in baseball. 

He's never been one of the most recognized, though, by the fans or the media. That's because Jackson has spent most of his career in the important, yet often overlooked, role of "set-up man." A set-up man is called on to get the tough outs in the seventh and eighth innings, and to then hand the baseball over to the team's "closer," who will preserve the lead that the set-up man protected. 
If all does well for the closer, he walks off the mound after the third out of the ninth inning, slapping palms with victorious teammates, hearing the roar of the appreciative crowd. 

Recently, however, the game-ending cheers were for Mike Jackson during the first half of the 1997 baseball season. He filled the glamorous role of closer for the Cleveland Indians, and he did it about as well as anybody in baseball. 

"I give God the glory," Jackson says of his success as a closer. "I couldn't have done it on my own." 
But when Jose Mesa, the Indians' ace reliever, regained his pitching form after a slow start, he returned to the closer's role. Jackson became, again, a set-up man. 
Mike Jackson, though, is a content man, too. 
"I knew in my heart that I was in the role of closer to help the team and to stabilize the bullpen until Jose came back," Jackson says. "Praise the Lord for giving me the strength to do it. "Now I'm back in the role I've been in during most of my career, and I'm continuing to try to do the job for His glory. The year has really been a blessing for me." 

Jackson, 32, was born in Houston and lives in Spring, Texas, during the off-season. He and his wife, Tammy, have a daughter, Lindsey Michelle (5), and a son, Ryan Michael (3). 

Jackson made it to the major leagues in 1986 with the Philadelphia Phillies. He has pitched in nearly 700 big league game s  Indians' a teammate Paul Assenmacher is the only player to pitch in more major league games during the 1990's than Jackson has. 

Nearly seven Years ago, Jackson accepted Jesus Christ as his Personal Lord and Savior. 
"I try to live a life that is pleasing to my Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ," Jackson says. 
The Indians signed Jackson as a free agent last December. He pitched for the Seattle Mariners in 1996. 
Jackson's teammates appreciate his character and his attitude. 

"Michael is a great guy," says Indians' pitcher Orel Hershiser. "He's a very intense competitor and he's a total professional in the way he prepares to do his job." 
"On the spiritual side, he's very dedicated, and God touches every part of his life." 

Like Jackson, Hershiser and infielder/designated hitter Kevin Seitzer are born-again Christians. 
"We have several believers on this team," Seitzer says "Mike's solid, and he walks with the Lord. He's trying to do the same things we're all trying to do, be better servants for Jesus." 

As the regular season neared its end, no fan knew how the Indians would perform in the Post-season. Any team that gets to the play-offs is capable of losing in the first series, and capable, too, of winning the World Series. 
Mike Jackson wanted, in any circumstance, to put God first. 

"God has a purpose and a plan for us on this team," Jackson said. "I think He knows that whatever success this team might have, whether it's a little or a lot, the believers on this team are not going to forget Him. 
We will give Him the honor and the glory.