Edwin Jackson ranks his top MLB cities

Who better to give trip advice than baseball's ultimate wanderer?

January 25th, 2021

Edwin Jackson has never not been on the move.

The self-described "Military brat" was born in Neu-Ulm, Germany -- the small town in which his father, Edwin Sr., was stationed while serving in the U.S. Army. He's one of just 27 big leaguers to hail from the country. At age 3, his family moved to Louisiana and then, for his most formative years (and the place he describes as home), he lived in Columbus, Ga.

And then, well, he started playing baseball.

It's a sport where players are constantly on the go -- criss-crossing the country as visitors, making homes in cities they've never been to and, many times, after a trade, instantly picking up their entire lives to move another 2,000 miles away.

Jackson has made his home in more places than anyone to ever play the game. He's lived in 13 different MLB cities (14 teams) in 17 seasons -- breaking Octavio Dotel's most-teams-played-for record in 2019. That's Los Angeles; Tampa Bay; Detroit; Phoenix; Chicago; St. Louis; Washington, D.C.; Atlanta; Miami; San Diego; Baltimore; Oakland; and Toronto. The 37-year-old says his traveling during his early years pretty much "pre-destined" him for the wandering baseball lifestyle.

"I'm pretty used to it, man," Jackson told me during a recent phone call. "Life has been on the move for me as long as I remember. My wife and I, we're professional packers. We've learned how to make it work on the fly."

Jackson's wife, Erika, is also a military brat and was in the Air Force -- deployed to faraway places like Dubai. She and the couple's three children used to travel with Edwin every time he got traded or signed to a new team, but now that the kids have gotten older and settled into schools, they've spent the last six years in Arizona. The D-backs probably hold a special place in the Jackson family's heart.

So, as baseball's resident nomad king, we wanted to ask Jackson about his favorite MLB cities. Where did he have the best pizza? The best ice cream? Which fans are truly the best in baseball? Here's a breakdown of his answers below.

Art by Tom Forget

St. Louis was one of the big winners, where Jackson played back in 2011 and won his only World Series ring. Besides the best sandwich -- which he mentioned was of the pulled-pork variety -- and having the friendliest residents, he said the Cardinals also have the best fans in baseball (a claim they'd be very pleased to hear about).

"The only place that I've never heard a person get booed, except for A.J. Pierzynski, is St. Louis," Jackson says. "They kinda cheer for everybody, and that's something you don't see anywhere."

San Diego was also a top choice for Jackson. His favorite tacos are, unsurprisingly, on the West Coast -- he mentioned City Taco in San Diego. He also rated it the best for sightseeing -- talking about the San Diego Zoo and many beaches. Oh, and the best weather?

"San Diego, hands down," Jackson laughs. "That's easy. You can't beat San Diego weather. It's the most perfect weather you could have."

Otherwise for food, Jackson says he's biased toward Atlanta -- less than two hours from where he grew up. He loves the Southern-style home cooking. But he definitely misses the Cuban food in Miami and he said Chicago is a can't-miss spot. It has a great diversity of restaurants and he had his favorite pizza -- a deep dish -- when he played there for both the Cubs and White Sox.

"We used to go to Lou Malnati's and Giordano's," Jackson says. "We used to go to those two. I would have to taste them again to decide which one is the best, but it's between those two. It's the pizza you can eat with a fork and spoon and nobody will look at you weird."

He first mentioned Coldstone as his favorite ice cream shop, but then reconsidered and remembered a place at Triple-A Syracuse. It's not a Major League city, but for ice cream, we'll make an exception.

"You know what, I take that back: The best ice cream I've had was in Syracuse," Jackson says. "It was this place Anthony's and their shakes were bomb."

Team-wise, the Nationals' clubhouse is his favorite because of its size -- although he said he would've loved to have gotten a chance to dress in the Cubs' new nightclub-style room. His top home ballpark to play in was Dodger Stadium -- the organization that drafted him way back in 2001.

"Dodger Stadium, especially when we were playing San Fran," Jackson says. "Those were some of the craziest series I've seen."

Jackson prefers Atlanta for nightlife -- just because he feels comfortable knowing where to go and where not to go -- and leans toward Georgia's capital as his overall favorite among the 13. But he did mention a city in which he's played twice (in 2009 at age 25 and in 2019 at age 35) as ranking near, or maybe even at the top.

"I would say the surprise city that people probably don't know is a lot of fun is Detroit," Jackson says. "You probably wouldn't think of Detroit as being fun, but it's a cool city. ... The culture there is dope. A lot of places to go. The atmosphere in the ballpark was great and we had a fun team."

Even after a life of traveling, neither Edwin nor Erika seems tired by the transient lifestyle (Erika and the kids still spend summer vacations with Edwin in his latest baseball town). You get the feeling they'd, somehow, like to travel even more. Erika even told The Athletic last year that she's "antsy" to move.

"It's pretty cool," Jackson says. "I've gotten a chance to live in 13 different cities -- not many people can say that."

With Jackson on the free agent market, maybe he, Erika and the kids will get to experience a completely different home in 2021.

via ejack36 on Instagram