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Al Jackson

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Alvin Neill Jackson

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Hard-luck southpaw Al Jackson is most remembered as a two-time 20-game loser as a member of the expansion New York Mets pitching staff. Jackson lost many low-scoring games due to the lack of run support during his years with the early Mets. However, he was the team's best pitcher in those early days, recording the first shutout in team history, against the Philadelphia Phillies on April 29, 1962, and in fact was responsible for all four of the Mets' shutouts that first season. His 13 wins in 1963 stood as a team record until the arrival of Tom Seaver in 1967, and he recorded the team's first-ever victory at Shea Stadium, a 6-0 blanking of his former team, the Pittsburgh Pirates, on April 19, 1964. On October 2nd that year, he almost cost the St. Louis Cardinals the pennant when he outdueled Bob Gibson, 1-0, with two games remaining on the schedule. He is the only pitcher in Mets history to lose 20 games twice - in 1962 and 1965 - but ironically, he was not the top loser on the team in either year, as Roger Craig lost 24 the first and Jack Fisher did so the last.

He was traded to the St. Louis Cardinals before the 1966 season and had his best season for them that year, going 13-15, 2.51. The Cardinals then won the 1967 World Series and he pitched in with a record of 9-4, 3.95 and 1 save as a swingman in 1967, but he was not used in the World Series. He returned to the Mets in 1968 and was briefly a part of their World Series-winning team in 1969, before being sold to the Cincinnati Reds on June 13th. He had no decisions and a 10.64 ERA in 9 games as a mop-up reliever for the Mets that year, so his contribution to the pennant was minimal, but he did pitch in the first game in the history of the Montreal Expos, on April 8th, when he gave a home run to Rusty Staub and a pair of singles, both of which came in to score, in a third of an inning, so he bears a lot of responsibility for the Mets' 11-10 loss that day. When he left the Mets, he was the team's all-time wins leader with 43, but that only lasted a couple of weeks, as Seaver soon passed him before the end of June; his team record for losses (80) lasted until 1974 however. He pitched somewhat better for the Reds the rest of 1969, but he was released early in 1970, before getting into a game, missing out on another pennant-winner. It was the end of his playing career.

After his playing days, he was a Boston Red Sox coach from 1977 to 1979, a member of the Baltimore Orioles staff from 1989 to 1991, and a Mets coach in 1999 and 2000. He also managed the Kingsport Mets in 1981 and was a minor league pitching instructor for many years. A number of pitchers from that awful 1962 Mets team that went 40-120 became pitching coaches besides him, including Roger Craig, Bob Miller and Galen Cisco.

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