“Papa Jack”, 1981 Donruss #489

Ron “Papa Jack” Jackson played for the Twins from 1979-1981 and in parts of three seasons put up a respectable line of .268/.325/.409. Jackson came to the Twins in a trade that sent him and Danny Goodwin to Minnesota for “Disco” Danny Ford. While with the Angels, Jackson saw more time at third than first, but got the unenviable task of replacing Twins’ legend, Rod Carew at first base. While impossible to match the output of Carew, Ron put up career highs in most offensive categories and played a very solid defensive first base. During the summer of 1981, Jackson was traded to the Detroit Tigers in exchange for Tom Corcoran and was subsequently granted his free agency at the end of the 1981 season. “Papa Jack” joined the Angels for one more stint that ran from 1982-1984 before finishing his career playing 12 games for the Baltimore Orioles.

 

After his retirement, Jackson didn’t wander far from the game and since leaving the majors has served as a coach for many different minor and major league teams. Jackson was also part of the short-lived Senior Professional Baseball Association. Ron played for the Fort Myers Sun Sox and knocked around the elderly pitching at a .344 clip with 36 RBIs. For those of you not familiar with the SPBA, it played a full schedule of games in 1989 but folded only 9 games into the 1990 season.

 

I did have the opportunity to see Jackson play for the Twins when I went to see a 1979 game between the Twins and the Angels. I remember it so vividly because we had front row seats along the first base line and spent the whole game cheering Ron on as Angel base runners reached first. I can’t remember whether the Twins won the game or even if Jackson got any hits, but I do remember that Ron kept giving us slight glances and smiles as we taunted each base runner.

 

Jackson’s 1981 Donruss card was one of 23 Twins in the set that marked Donruss’ first entry into card market after the courts broke up the Topps monopoly, allowing other manufacturers to enter the market. Interestingly, Topps was the only company allowed to include gum into their packs, so in 1981 Donruss included cookies before going to puzzle pieces in 1982. The entire set was pretty bland in nature with posed shots and terrible color, but I do like the backs of the cards which included career highlights along with a season/career stat line.

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