Original Met Al Jackson dies at 83

August 19th, 2019

Al Jackson, a popular original Met who despite losing 20 games in the team's legendary first season was its franchise record-holder for victories for seven years, died Monday in Port St. Lucie, Fla., after a long illness. He was 83.

"We are saddened to hear about the passing of Al Jackson, an original Met, who spent 50 years in a New York Mets uniform," the Mets said in a statement. "He was a pitcher, Major League coach, Minor League pitching coordinator and front-office advisor. It would be impossible to calculate the number of players and staff he touched and influenced during his career. ... Our heartfelt condolences go out to his wife, Nadine, his sons, Reggie and Barry and grandchildren, Wesley and Kyle."

Taken from the Pirates in the expansion draft the preceded the 1962 season, the left-handed Jackson made 33 starts that year, going 8-20 as the Mets established a single-season record for losing by finishing 40-120, becoming legendary by the many books, articles and essays inspired by the combination of their personalities and inept play -- a combination that led to Mets fans embracing them in spite of -- or because of -- their struggles.

Well liked and known for his pleasant demeanor in the baseball community throughout his life, Mets broadcaster Bob Murphy frequently -- and affectionately -- called the 5-foot-10, 169-pound pitcher "Little Al Jackson."

Jackson was a member of a rotation the year that included 24-game loser Roger Craig and 19-game loser Jay Hook. Jackson went on to go 13-17 in 1963, 11-16 in '64, when he shut out the Pirates for the Mets' first win at Shea Stadium. He went 8-20 once again in '65 before being traded to the Cardinals for Ken Boyer. Jackson had his best season in '66, going 13-15 with a 2.51 ERA in 36 games, which included 30 starts.

Jackson returned to the Mets in 1968 and began the '69 season -- the one in which the Mets would shock the sports world by winning the World Series -- with the team, appearing in nine games before being acquired by the Reds and completing his final season as a player.

He went 43-80 in 184 games for the Mets. Not only did his victory total stand as a franchise record until Tom Seaver passed it in '69, so too did his club-record 10 shutouts.

Jackson went on to coaching, working at the Major League level with the Red Sox, Orioles and Mets. Most of his coaching career was with the Mets at the Minor League level, meaning he mentored the many successful pitchers who have come through the Mets organization over the past 50 years.