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
"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.