Today, we wish a Happy 36th Birthday to Damian Jackson!
Jackson played for the Sox, during the 2003 season, as a jack-of-all-trades utility player. He could pay the infield, or the outfield if you needed him too. There was one thing, though that he could do very well. Because of that, even though he played in 2003, I think he had a huge effect on the 2004 World Championship.
Jackson wasn’t an all-star, but he was a very valuable member of the team. He knew how to steal a base. It wasn’t just being able to rack up steals, like Jacoby Ellsbury. He could steal a base when everyone knew he had to steal a base. He had 16 steals for the Sox in 2003. I’d swear 14 of them were as a pinch runner in the ninth. If the Sox were down a run in the ninth, and someone got on, Jackson was the runner. Even though everyone in the ballpark, and watching at home, knew he was running he would steal second to get in scoring position. It was an awesome weapon to have, and helped greatly.
Jackson didn’t play for the Sox the 2003 season. When the 2004 season started, I thought the team was pretty stacked. I always thought that the only thing they were really missing was that pinch runner like Jackson. If they needed a run late in the season, they needed that guy that you knew could get the extra base for you. It was something that I never knew was handy to have until Jackson led the way. Once the team had it though, I knew they needed it again. As it turns out, Theo must have agreed with me. At the 2004 deadline, the good move he made was to go out and get just such a player. Dave Roberts.
We all know the story from there. Three outs from being swept out of the ALCS, the Sox are down a run when Kevin Millar walks. In comes Roberts to a situation where everyone knows he’s running. The story goes that Francona gave Roberts a wink to let him know he should run. Tito could have stood on the top step of the dugout with a megaphone and poster telling him to steal. It wasn’t a secret. Even under those circumstances, Roberts took off and beat the throw to second. He scores the tying run seconds later, and the rest is history. The Sox are World Champions for the first time in 86 years, thanks in large part to that steal.
And I don’t think it would have happened without Damian Jackson.
Happy Birthday Damian!
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