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Where are they now? Grant Jackson

Thursday, August 29, 2002

By Rich Emert

A crafty left-hander, Grant Jackson played a major role in the Pirates winning the World Series in 1979.

He was the perfect complement to Kent Tekulve and Enrique Romo in the bullpen. Jackson allowed no runs and just two hits in six games in the National League Championship Series and the World Series.

He was the winning pitcher in a 5-2 victory against Cincinnati in the first game of the NLCS and got the win when the Pirates defeated Baltimore, 4-1, in the seventh game of the Series. In 18 major-league seasons with six teams, Jackson compiled an 86-75 record and a 3.46 ERA, with 79 saves.

In 1979, he was 8-5 with a 2.96 ERA and 14 saves.

After his playing days ended, Jackson went into coaching. He has been the pitching coach at Dayton (Class A) in '87, Pittsfield (Class AA) in '88, Charlotte (Class AA) in '89 and Iowa (Class AAA) in 1990-91. He was in the Reds organization for six seasons before joining the Rochester Red Wings, the Baltimore Orioles' top minor-league team, this season. Jackson, who will be 60 next month, lives in Upper St. Clair. He and his wife, Millie, have three children.

Q: Is there a philosophy you try to instill in young pitchers?

A: Nothing out of the normal. I tell them the good ones put into action what they have worked on and then make it work in games. I tell them to take some pride in what they do.

Q: Is there one thing you've found pitchers are lacking when you get them?

A: The big thing is that they don't know the history of the game. I've had guys who didn't know who Sandy Koufax and Bob Gibson are, and that's a shame. They know about the money or at least how much money they can make, but they don't know about the game, and that's something they should understand.

Q: Have you ever thought about being a manager?

A: No. When you do that, you get gray hair, you get fat and you start smoking. Lloyd [McClendon] doesn't have any gray hair because he's smart. He cuts it all off so you can't tell.

Q: Would you like to work for the Pirates?

A: I try to go back every year. I applied for the pitching coach job with them when they gave it to Spin Williams. They tend to go the other way and not bring back players from when the team was winning. There are a lot of guys from when I played that have jobs and are working. Guys like Mike Easler and Bill Robinson and Phil Garner, but none of them are working in Pittsburgh.

Q: Best moment as a Pirate?

A: I had a lot of good ones, but winning that last game in [the World Series in] '79 stands out. But just to be a part of that team and to rub shoulders with a lot of people in Pittsburgh was a great experience. It wasn't bad for a farmer from Ohio.

Q: Didn't the Pirates use you as a pinch runner a number of times?

A: I did that and I always thought I was a decent hitter. I took pride in knowing how to play the game, not just pitch. When you run the bases, you've got to run with your eyes wide open so you can see what's going on around you and know what to do. If you know the game, then you know how to run the bases and you can help the team in another way.

Q: Was their one player you could always get out?

A: No one in particular. The guy who would kick my behind regularly was Billy Williams. A lot of people probably don't remember when he played in the outfield for the Cubs, but he was tough for me to get out.

Q: Williams is in the Hall of Fame.

A: He is, and speaking of that, [former Pirates third baseman] Bill Madlock won four batting titles and he isn't in the Hall of Fame, and I think he should be. He worked hard to win those titles. I know he got some money for winning the title the one season, and he gave [coach] Joe Lonnett and myself each $5,000 because we would throw extra batting practice for him all the time during the season.

Q: How much longer are you going to coach?

A: I don't know. I guess until I get tired of it, but I think I've still got a lot to give to the game. I've tried to retire three times and just can't do it. I've never been one to just sit around the house.

Q: Have you been involved in the fantasy baseball camps in the winter?

A: I've done them when Nellie Briles has called and asked me. Otherwise, I'll just sit back and watch the Steelers play.

Q: You're a Steelers fan?

A: Sure. Back in 1976 ,Willie Stargell, Dave Parker, Bill Madlock and myself would go to home games, and we'd sit up at the very top of the stadium. When it would get too cold, we'd go down to the Allegheny Club and we'd sit in there with John Henry Johnson and just talk. The game would be over and we'd still be in there talking about things.

Play The Game! ... emert196@attbi.com.

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