Wednesday, August 28, 2013

COMMON VALOR: 1978 TOPPS GRANT JACKSON





Is that a python ingesting Grant Jackson's arm or is he just happy to be wearing his jacket? Snakes alive, it's card No. 661 from the 1978 Topps set. Run!

Was that beast coiled in his basket, waiting to strike?

Dangling the Python doesn't have the same ring as Flexing the Pythons.

Famous snakes from the sports and entertainment world include Hall of Fame quarterback Kenny "Snake'' Stabler, pro wrestler Jake "The Snake'' Roberts and Ryan Braun.

Alas, Jackson was nicknamed "Buck'' but was Larry Bowa's teammate for one season in Philadelphia in '70. Against Jackson, Bowa rolled snake eyes, going 1-for-16, an .063 average.

After seeing this card, I'm assuming Jackson developed an aversion for ectothermic amniote vertebrates. Not me. Always liked and respected all snakes and think they get a bad rap, lyin' Ryan notwithstanding. Living in Florida all my life, I've come across lots of them but never a poisonous one. Still have all 10 fingers, for the record.

Now I've handled and admired another in an ongoing quest to wrap up this set.

Jackson was an effective reliever for 18 seasons but had a rough first six with the Phillies, going 23-43, with a 3.99 ERA and three saves. After being traded to the Orioles following the '70 season, Buck turned it around by, of course, finding the strike zone.

He walked an average of 3.6 per nine in Philadelphia but reduced that to 2.8 with the Orioles. In Baltimore over six seasons, he posted a 24-12 record, 2.81 ERA and 39 saves, 12 in '74. After leaving the Phillies, Jackson never had a losing record for any of his final five teams.  

Pitching for the Pirates in '79, Jackson bit the hand that once fed him. He was the winner of Game 7 of the World Series, putting the squeeze on the Birds by pitching 2.2 scoreless innings.

As a die-hard Orioles fan then, all I could say was "Boo, hiss.''

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